HMI: What led you to start Osmosis?
Shiv and Ryan: We met at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine as anatomy team-based learning partners. A week after anatomy ended, we were quizzing each other on material that we had known extremely well just a few weeks earlier and were shocked to realize that we had already forgotten much of it.
That did not bode well for the next four years of med school followed by 3-7 years of residency, not to mention a lifetime of practice. We found that our classmates had similar issues with retention. Compounding this problem was that we had an overwhelming number of resources – books, question banks, videos, reference articles, etc. – that were not being organized or presented to us in an easily digestible or optimal way.
Given that both of us had backgrounds in neuroscience and engineering, we did a literature review and found proven cognitive techniques such as spaced repetition and test-enhanced learning that were implemented only in isolation in medical school curricula, if at all. We decided to start building a tool that would essentially help a student “manage medical school.” The idea was to create a virtual tutor that knew exactly what we were learning, could recommended high-yield resources, and would quiz us periodically to ensure we were staying up-to-date. Within a few weeks of releasing this tool – Osmosis - to our classmates at Johns Hopkins we started hearing from friends of friends at Tufts, Northwestern, Columbia, and a few other medical schools who wanted to use it. We decided to keep developing it and almost three years later we now have 35,000 medical students and 16 schools using it to improve the way they learn and teach, respectively.