As physicians increase their patient panels, it is understandably difficult to devote large amounts of time to one patient. Using technology in medical practice can alleviate some of the time pressures that stretched-thin physicians face.
NextIT out of Spokane, Washington has developed a virtual personal assistant, Alme, to help solve this problem. NextIT, founded in 2002, has made a name for itself creating virtual assistants for business; its client list includes Aetna, Alaska Airlines, Amtrack, United Airlines, Merrill Lynch and the U.S. Army. Now it has ventured into healthcare. According to NextIT’s website, Alme for Healthcare combines an intricate natural language model with the simple, friendly interface of an avatar – or virtual health assistant (VHA) – to drive interactive conversations with users on their channel of choice. In addition to supplementing an overworked physician’s practice, Alme provides personalized chronic disease coaching to patients and guides patients through filling out complex forms, such as those required for insurance.
According to the Washington Post:
[Alme for healthcare] can answer questions about insurance, find doctors, track personal goals, support adherence to treatment regimens, suggest healthy food choices, send reminders, share lab results, and communicate basic pieces of information — all through a mobile device. This cuts down on the amount of time patients and care providers need to spend communicating, so both can focus on more important and/or complicated issues…
Alme is HIPAA compliant, and every conversation is logged and can be reviewed by doctors. Healthcare provider Aetna piloted Alme in 2010, under the name “Ann.” Aetna said that more than half the people registering on the website for the first time engage with Ann, and that five months after implementation, they saw a 29% reduction in calls to their membership serve help desk. Ann now answers nearly 50,000 questions a day and nearly 1.5 million questions per month.
With more than 8 of 10 doctors reporting in a recent survey that virtual assistants will drastically change healthcare by 2018, Alme may represent one of many forays of using virtual assistants in patient care. We look forward to the results!
Link: Alme for Healthcare…