Heuristext Inc. is developing software that will be used to adjust and develop the reading level of anyone search and reading information online. Through the development of this software Heuristext Inc. will allow the reader to choose where their reading level currently sits and "translate" online material to that level.
The economic impact of low literacy is staggering.
Heuristext Inc.'s Long-Term Mission is to Improve Information Equity. With a Vision to Increase the Populations Literacy Rates.
Heuristext Inc. History
as told by Heuristext Inc. Founder, Melissa Kargiannakis
Well...the journey to this moment started over 4 years ago.
The eureka idea came to me in February 2013, in my Master’s of Health Information Science: What if you could just click a button to make anything you are reading easier to understand?
Imagine your 68-year-old mother has just found out she has diabetes. With her health and wellbeing at risk it can be a very stressful, confusing, and overwhelming time. The first thing she may do, like any of us would, is turn to the internet to learn more about this disease. She will come across words like nephropathy, glomerulosclerosis, and albuminuria. These scary words only make a nerve-racking situation worse.
Not being able to fully understand health information is frustrating, costly, and can have a dramatic impact on a patient’s outcome. It costs 8-21% more to treat an uninformed patient than their informed counterparts and research shows that when patients have confidence in their capacity to make life-improving changes, they have better clinical outcomes.
When I discovered this idea to change the way people understand online information in 2013, fear prevented me from telling anyone or even saying “I have an idea to solve this” out loud until a year later.
Then in January 2014, as a Studio Y Fellow at MaRS Discovery District in Toronto, I started to do research to see if there was anything like this out there (there isn’t) and if there was a need for it.
And there definitely is….
Literacy rates have plateaued in both Canada and the United States in the last decade. According to the Canadian Literacy and Learning Network and the U.S. National Center for Education Statistics, nearly half of their adult populations are considered low-literate.
Low-literacy is “defined as the difficulty using certain reading, writing, and computational skills considered necessary for functioning in everyday life. This means that an individual can read a little, but not well enough to fill out an application, read a food label or read a simple story to a child” (Source: U.S. Department of Transportation – Federal Highway Administration Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty).
The economic impact of this issue is staggering. According to ProLiteracy, an excess of $230B a year in health care costs is linked to low adult literacy. Moreover, low literacy costs the U.S. at least $225B each year in non-productivity in the workforce, crime, and loss of tax revenue due to unemployment. Increasing the literacy rate by just 1% in Canada would lead to an impact of $18B in economic growth and the same 1% increase in the U.S. would lead to an impact of $90B. And that impact can be felt year over year for every 1% increase.
These statistics are just the tip of the iceberg. And this is a level of injustice that I cannot sit by and watch. I am motivated by inequity and fired up to make the internet more readable for anyone, anywhere, always.
So, on November 30, 2015, I legally incorporated Heuristext… took a leap of faith and jumped off the cliff into the abyss that is entrepreneurship.
What is Heuristext Inc.?
Heuristext Inc. is an online tool that customizes a webpage to the viewer’s reading level. Imagine "Google Translate" except instead of translating across different languages, Heuristext adapts information to different reading levels.
Heuristext Inc. empowers the average internet user, of any age and any reading ability, to truly understand online information and reduces the harm that misinformation can cause, particularly as it relates to health matters.