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Deploying Conversational AI, Mental Health Gyms?, Healthcare Leader Disparites-The HSB Blog 10/20/20

What Did We Learn Implementing...Conversational AI in Healthcare?

Event: (10/7) On October 7th, an article was published in Medium regarding Inception Health’s efforts and insight into implementing conversational AI in healthcare. Although the healthcare field may seem ideal for the implementation of AI tools and resources, they encountered several barriers that would present some difficulty in the process.

Description: Inception Health (created by the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin) partners with innovative companies to solve key health care problems, develop new ideas, and scale solutions across their network and beyond. As a result, the organization sought out conversational AI because it seemed to have everything needed to have a positive impact on healthcare practice. Conversational AI is designed to teach computers to answer questions and help guide a person based on prompts. In healthcare, it can enable an enhanced and personalized patient experience and scale data access, transparency, and health literacy. While there are several tools available, the article mentions the challenges that would come with the implementation of this AI tool. This includes the biases associated with using data generated by current healthcare systems and legal restrictions that impact the ability to create these tools. As a result, the authors opted to use open source solutions to help build conversational AI agents (including Parl AI and BERT).

Implications: The use of conversational AI has many components and designs that can be used by researchers to improve healthcare disparities, but the legal restrictions and biases have limited the development of medical AI to a few research projects and a few AI startups. While there continues to be a large amount of data generated by healthcare providers, most of it cannot be used for training algorithms and are severely restricted by data privacy and security regulations. While several solutions have been proposed such as developing an open-source healthcare chatbot dataset or using desensitized data to create “fake” patients with realistic health conditions for training algorithms, the data is still difficult to retrieve and additional processes are in place that create barriers. As a result of these issues, deployment of conversational AI in healthcare is not as effective as it could be and it remains behind other industries with similar amounts of data at its disposal.

Therapy Startup Coa Raises $3M to Launch World's First Gym for Mental Health

Event: (10/14) On October 14th, Coa, a platform that offers therapy-led classes and one-on-one therapy, announced it had closed a $3 million seed round of funding. Since March 2020, demand for its workplace curriculum has grown 900% according to the company’s press release. To date, more than 3,500 people have joined Coa's waitlist for the studio launch. Coa aims to build a home for therapy, emotional fitness classes, and a sense of community.

Background: Coa offers several services, giving communities a "gym" for mental health. These include emotional fitness classes to teach patients how to treat their mind like a muscle and increase resilience to deal with stress and anxiety. Users can also fill out a short questionnaire to be matched with therapists for one-on-one sessions. Coa also has the ability to partner with employers to provide employees with deep-dive sessions to develop mental health and emotional fitness skills, Q&A sessions about managing anxiety in the workplace, and workshops that follow a "learn, exercise, breakout, discuss" framework built on Coa founder Dr. Emilty Anhalt's research into the 7 Traits of Emotional Fitness.

Implications: Coa's educational and emotional fitness services can help users in group or one-on-one environments in the comfort of their own home (and can even influence users to pursue careers in therapy). By partnering with employers, Coa is building an emotional safety net for employees with their companies and giving them additional resources during this difficult time. Once the pandemic is over, Coa can continue to maximize company’s and individuals' emotional well-being through regular classes, workshops, and one-on-one sessions.

Oliver Wyman Executive says “Men and Women View Leadership Differently, Propelling the Gender Gap in Healthcare”

Event: (10/15) A recent article in Mobihealthnews examined the continuous underrepresentation of women in leadership positions within the healthcare sector, despite years of initiatives. The article was a summary of the women in the workplace event at the HLTH VRTL conference.

Description: Healthcare has a gender parity issue in terms of leadership positions with women making up only about 24% of executives of Fortune 500 healthcare companies, approximately 37% of hospital executives, and only 14% of digital health deals (defined as closed by female-led startups). Experts have noted that when companies attempt to address gender inequality without meaningful improvement there is usually something unexamined going on beneath the surface. According to many of these experts, the challenge for some women is the inconsistency at a leadership level of what a leader looks and acts like. Research indicates that the definition of leadership skills were often a function of which gender someone was speaking about. For example when leaders were asked about the top 3 leadership traits for both men and women they agreed that the most important leadership trait was confidence. Answers differed sharply on the 2nd and 3rd traits with “direct” and “decisive” cited for males, while “empowering teams” and “being collaborative” were cited for females. This inconsistency in leadership expectations sends a mixed message and makes it difficult for women to understand and demonstrate the appropriate skill sets to advance.

Implications: As a result of this dichotomy, while there have been a wave of programs and initiatives at boosting women in leadership roles the results have been mixed at best. This signals that commonly implemented initiatives are not aligned with what experts think are most effective ways to close the gap. Among steps organizations can take are to directly and clearly address and eliminate the differing expectations for men and women in leadership roles. In addition, aspiring women leaders should be paired with sponsors (as opposed to mentors), who use their own political capital and credibility to advocate on these aspiring leader’s behalf.

Twentyeight Health Raises $5.1M to Scale Affordable Telemedicine Solution for Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Care

Event: (10/15) TechCrunch recently profiled Twentyeight Health, a health tech company expanding access to women's sexual and reproductive healthcare for those on Medicaid or uninsured, which closed $5.1 million in seed funding last week.

Background: Twentyeight Health was formed to bring contraceptive care to a population that historically hasn’t had as good access to “quality, dignified and convenient care”. To ensure it is catering to underserved communities the company works with Bottomless Closet, a workforce entry program for women as well as 8 colleges in the City University of New York (CUNY) system where 70% of the students come from families making less than $30K in annual income. The Company’s services are available in FL, MD, NY, NJ, NC and PA and it is the only telemedicine company focused on contraception services to accept Medicaid.

Implications: Women who are on Medicaid, who are underinsured or without health insurance often struggle to find access to reproductive health services, and these struggles have only increased with COVID-19 pandemic limiting access to in-person appointments. Where seeking the right sexual health treatment may be overwhelming for women, Twentyeight Health makes this easier. As the company notes, low income women are 3x more likely than average to have an unintended pregnancy and nearly ⅓ of physicians nationwide aren’t accepting Medicaid. Services like Twentyeight health and others are demonstrating the efficacy of using digital tools to bring broader, more convenient and more inclusive access to care to under-resourced populations.

Spain’s Savana Medica Raises $15 Million to Bring to the US its AI Toolkit Turning Clinical Notes Into Care Insights

Event: (10/15) On October 15th, Spain’s Savana Medica announced that it had raised $15 million to bring its AI based technology from Europe to the U.S. Telehealth market. Savana has a machine learning-based service that turns clinical notes into structured patient information for pharmacists and physicians.

Description: According to the company, Savana is already working with the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies and more than 100 healthcare facilities. The company states it has already processed some 400 million electronic medical records (EMRs) in English, Spanish, German and French. According to Savana Chief Executive Jorge Tello, one of the company’s main value propositions is its focus on security, where “information remains controlled by the hospital, with privacy guaranteed by the de-identification of patient data before [they] process it”.

Implications: As the COVID pandemic has demonstrated, having up-to-date actionable information is crucial to treating patients as effectively as possible. Given The company’s mission is to “predict...disease at the patient level” and “discovering new ways of providing medical knowledge in almost real time could provide crucial minutes in the treatment of certain diseases and could be especially valuable during public health crises like the current pandemic. The integration of technology like Savana’s into US hospitals could ease the burden on healthcare providers, and speed response times.

Lifelight and Karantis360 Partner to Deliver Social Care Remote Patient Monitoring

Event: (10/16) A recent article in MobiHealth News noted that UK companies Lifelight and Karantis360 had formed a partnership to enable safer independent living for older and vulnerable individuals by delivering a remote picture of their wellbeing. The Karantis360 solution will run on the IBM Cloud and use IBM AI and analytics coupled with a network of smart sensors to identify and learn an individual’s typical behavior.

Description: According to the companies, their solution allows regular behavior and vital sign readings to be taken in homes and other outpatient care settings safely, and has optimized clinician’s workflow.The combined solution allows for timely interventions and clinical actions based on real-time physiological data. Lifelight allows the contactless measurement of vital signs by using a standard smartphone or tablet and will detect tiny changes in facial skin color which may indicate a deviation in heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, or oxygen levels. If changes appear in relation to an individual’s daily routine or vital sign readings, automated alerts will be sent to the care provider and family members.

Implications: The continuing need to physically distance has increased the demand for virtual care tools like the one described by the partnership. While telehealth visits are increasingly replacing many in-person visits some conditions still require physical observations. A digital tool with sensors and remote monitoring capabilities reduces the need for certain in-person visits, while improving patient care and supporting clinical decision-making. As such the combined solution can help support earlier patient discharges and prevent readmissions in real-time without the need or cost of additional hardware. These types of apps reinforce the role of IoT devices in healthcare in the move to value-based care via lower cost, higher quality, and patient friendly solutions.


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