Successful patient engagement is a hallmark of success in the world of digital health. Thinking beyond the mobile app or wearable technology itself, Neura, a Silicon Valley-based company that was founded in 2013, has created a software platform that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to improve patient engagement for better health outcomes. By integrating with Neura’s SDK, digital health technologies can dynamically key off of activity and lifestyle factors from the physical world around the user to contextualize the user experience for each individual. Today, Neura’s platform is already being used to impact the $300B challenge of medication adherence.
Medgadget had a chance to sit down with CEO and Co-Founder Gilad Meiri to learn more about Neura’s platform and the company’s vision for improving patient engagement.
Mike Batista, Medgadget: We all know there is a vast world of mobile medical technologies out there trying to help people live better. What challenges do these technologies have today that Neura is working to solve?
Gilad Meriri, Neura: Before now, medical and wellness solutions have been largely unaware of their users. They’re one-dimensional. A smart glucometer, for example, only sees a user’s historical blood glucose levels and whether they’ve taken their medication at a given time. However, it can’t detect how real-world events in a user’s life may be impacting their health. It is this holistic view that will help users improve their health. Neura’s artificial intelligence (AI) engine provides this needed holistic, “user-aware” view.
Neura’s AI engine brings the physical world, or “outernet,” into apps. This is something traditional AI-based personalization solutions, like what you see in websites and ads, cannot do.
For a diabetic patient, for example, a glucometer that has integrated Neura can help prevent the user from having a hypoglycemic reaction, or “hypo,” by responding to events in the user’s life. Preventing a “hypo” isn’t a “nice to have;” it’s life saving.
Here is an example use case for a patient like this: the user is driving to the gym, and the glucometer, knowing that the user’s blood sugar levels often plummet when they go to the gym, prompts the user to check their glucose levels on the spot. In this case, the glucometer focuses not only on glucose readings but also on what the user is doing in the physical world resulting in improved health outcomes.
Medgadget: How does Neura’s platform work with varying technologies to help them solve challenges and achieve the goals they’ve been developed for?
Meiri: Neura is an AI service that is integrated into mobile apps, wearable technologies, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. App makers integrate the Neura software development kit (SDK) so they can increase user engagement and retention. Users activate Neura within their apps so they can get greater personalization. We benefit both users (consumers) and app and device makers.
In the diabetes example above, Neura informs the glucometer of a significant user event (e.g, the user is driving to the gym) and triggers an alert. The user responds to the alert and avoids a “hypo.” By better serving the user, the glucometer increases engagement and reduces churn.
Medgadget: How easy is it for medical management apps and devices to leverage Neura’s AI platform?
Meiri: Integrating our technology is a quick and easy process. It takes less than two hours to integrate the Neura SDK into an app. The latest integration took just 35 minutes.
On the Internet, the power of personalization was proven long ago. You need only look at the success of e-commerce stores, search engines, and mapping solutions. Amazon, for example, provides you, me, and others with unique homepages that are tailored to our individual interests. The result? We spend more time and money with Amazon. However, the old personalization technology of websites and ads doesn’t provide the holistic user view needed for digital health solutions. When you apply contextual personalization to healthcare, specifically in the area of medication adherence, it dramatically increases both adherence and health.
Medgadget: Where did the idea of applying AI to patient engagement in healthcare come from?
Meiri: Our origin story helps explain why we’re so passionate about solving problems in healthcare. Neura originated as a result of one of our founders, Triinu Magi, nearly dying after being misdiagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Unbeknownst to her healthcare providers at the time, Triinu actually had the rare type 1.5 form of diabetes. Had she had access to the kinds of contextual insights that Neura provides, she may have been able to detect and treat the disease earlier. Detecting and treating illness is important to us in a very personal way.
Medgadget: Neura began as a privacy-focused platform for the Internet of Things. When and how did the migration to user engagement and healthcare happen?
Meiri: Our dedication to protecting private information has been and will always be a guiding principle for our team. This has never changed. Privacy is the keystone of the Neura-Customer-User triangle.
We’re focusing on helping digital health companies because they have a big need that we can solve. Many digital health solutions and wearable technologies struggle to engage their users, and this leads to worse health outcomes. A diabetes app must help users prevent “hypos” and “hypers,” that’s its job. But if it’s reminding users to check their glucose levels at inappropriate times, then it’s falling short. Neura fills that gap. It knows the perfect times to reach users. We care about making a big impact toward improving people’s lives. Digital health is a vehicle for that.
For our digital health go-to-market strategy, we’re working with apps and connected devices. Although there are relevant applications for Neura in other verticals, we started with digital health because we realized we were able to make a significant impact immediately. One of our customers reported they’ve seen an adherence increase of 18 percent within 30 days. It’s incredible to know that two hours of working with our SDK could yield results like this. We have the potential to change people’s lives.
Medgadget: Do you have any other data or anecdotes on Neura’s impact or use?
Meiri: In a recent pilot, a Neura-enabled medication adherence solution was compared head-to-head with a traditional medication reminder solution. The engagement rates for the Neura-enabled solution were 88 percent higher.
On the development side, a digital health company was able to integrate the Neura SDK and have the Neura AI operating with their app in less than a day. Their company creates smart medication dispensers accompanied by a mobile app to help increase medication adherence among their users. The expectation is that Neura will significantly boost its users’ adherence levels.
Medgadget: Beyond medication adherence, what are other areas of healthcare where Neura already is or hopes to make an impact?
Meiri: You’re correct. Medication adherence is only the first in a series of areas in which Neura can impact users’ lives. Neura fits best in situations where a holistic understanding of the user and behavioral cues trigger notifications that can improve the user’s well-being.
Any health app or wearable device can integrate Neura, so it’s possible for us to have a broad reach in the digital health space. In the coming months, we’ll be rolling out more custom use cases built with the Neura AI engine. Even before we started focusing on medication adherence, app builders used our SDK to create contextual personalization in a broad range of digital health apps, including fertility, wellness, and diabetes.
Medgadget: What’s next for Neura? Is Neura looking at areas outside of healthcare where your AI-driven platform can make an impact? What are those areas?
Meiri: Our goal within our current go-to-market stage is to provide a disruptive AI engine that enhances digital health solutions by transforming them from scripted and manual to adaptive and responsive. We help our customers make their great solutions even better. The result for our customers is increased engagement, higher user acquisition, and decreased churn. The result for the end user is better health.
Just as we enhance engagement and retention for digital health solutions by helping them understand their patients’ lives beyond the specific sensor or metric, there are other “smart” areas that would also benefit from Neura’s technology.
For now, we’re focused on making a substantial impact in digital health. At the same time, we see other verticals such as smart homes, automotive, and music, that will greatly benefit from Neura’s personalized solutions. In the end, all these examples need to better adapt and blend into people’s lives.