What is Discovering Hands?
Discovering Hands trains and deploys visually impaired women with their highly developed sensory skills to detect the early signs of breast cancer. “Medical Tactile Examiners” (MTEs) are trained to deliver physical breast examinations at doctors’ practices.
During a 9-month training period they learn how to use a standardized diagnostic method for examining the female breast. Additionally, all MTEs are trained in communication skills and breast-specific psychology, as well as administrative tasks typically carried out by a doctor’s assistant. MTEs are either directly employed by resident doctors or hospitals, or they work for different practices and/or hospitals on a freelance basis.
How was it initially funded?
Discovering Hands was initially funded through mezzanine capital with revenue participation. Closing their first round of funding in 2013 with €450, 000 and the second round, which opened in 2016, aiming to achieve €800,000.
What have they accomplished?
Discovering Hands currently operates in Germany and in Austria. In both India and Colombia they have pilot projects running with scale-up in planning. Fresh capital for scaling the social enterprise’s impact to currently 24 trained MTE active in Germany and Austria, and 12,000 examinations performed (as per 2015). Preliminary qualitative results show that MTEs detect 30% more and 50% smaller tissue alterations in the breast than doctors (5-8mm vs. 10-15mm)
Discovering Hands is planning to substantially increase the number of MTEs in the years to come, both in Germany and around the world. We are operating as a social business because we believe in the our value proposition (to the healthcare sector, and institutions supporting people with disabilities) and financial sustainability because of that.