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Companies Focused on Using AI and NLP for Patient Education, Behavior Modification: Part 2

Thomas Morrow, MD, is the chief medical officer for Next IT. His current position is the culmination of his passion to improve clinical outcomes for people with chronic disease through the use advanced natural language processing and artificial intelligence. He graduated from Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, practiced family medicine for 14 years, and held a variety of positions including a faculty position at a residency and medical school, staff physician at a staff model health maintenance organization, and numerous medical director positions at multiple health plans.
Next IT Corp
(Disclosure: I work for Next IT as the chief medical officer.)
Next IT, another NLP and artificial intelligence company uses the term “human emulation” to describe its overall approach to developing custom-built intelligent virtual health assistants (VHA). Housed on the sponsoring company’s servers, Next IT’s agents emulate the actions of dozens of human jobs in a variety of industries such as human resources, banking, investment, insurance company customer service, airline reservation agents, US Army recruiters, railroad ticket agents, health insurance enrollment, and, most recently, healthcare. Their Alme platform is a VHA or virtual health coach for direct-to-person (ie, patient) interaction. 

The Alme VHAs can literally enter into conversations with patients and since they have names, personalities, a sense of humor, favorite colors, actors, food dishes and more, people actually develop an relationship with them and have been known to flirt! The VHAs can remind people of a medication dose, ask how they are doing, perform a validated depression screen (or other clinical assessment such as a disease activity score or health assessment questionnaire score), activate the camera on a smart device to photograph a drug reaction or rash, assist with financial assistance programs, help with a prior authorization process, and, if needed, transfer a patient to a live professional in real time. The VHA could literally, on command, dial 911 and transmit the actual GPS coordinates and “talk” to the 911 operator about the emergency.

The Alme VHA platform is able to basically become the brain for a variety of other devices and adherence technologies by sweeping data from apps, intelligent pill bottles, glucometers, exercise and sleep monitors, predictive modeling software, pharmacy dispensing records, claim systems, and a myriad of other data sources so that a complete dashboard of health data can be presented to a patient, physician, pharmacist, or health plan (all in a HIPAA-compliant manner). The platform can then discuss pertinent findings, deliver incentives, explain the need for adherence, encourage and trigger the desired behaviors, and even notify accountability partners and selected social groups, such as competing exercise or weight loss teams, all with user and sponsor configurability for each function. 

Programmed with a “motivational interviewing” mode of conversing, the agents can engage in numerous ways to promote motivation, break down complex behaviors into smaller pieces and trigger their behavior using numerous health behavior theories and models such as the transtheoretical, health belief, and social theories mentioned earlier in this series. 

Once programmed and integrated with the sponsoring organization’s specific domain, the VHA can literally understand 10,000 different questions on a given disease and answer the questions with an appropriate answer (both technically and at grade level) due to the ability to understand the intent of the human conversing with the VHA. 

As the patient “talks” to the agent, the dialogue is scrolled on the screen so the patient can correct any errors in voice recognition, something that is certain to happen in any NLP system on the market. And because of the way the VHA is created, numerous languages can be incorporated into the same platform. The user experience is identical across platforms such as smartphones, tablets, and computers as the VHA can accept the patient input using type, talk, or tapping functions all the while recording into the same data system. 
Next IT feels that the use of a VHA is not only needed but also inevitable in promoting adherence and lifestyle changes citing 100 million people with prediabetes as a very large proof point. The company asks: “Do we have any other viable option?”

Next, bringing it all together.

Copyright AJMC 2006-2018 Clinical Care Targeted Communications Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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