Ensuring that patients adhere to a drug regimen is vitally important to help them manage their symptoms and long-term health prospects. In patients with chronic conditions, taking medication consistently is extremely important, as is monitoring their symptoms to adjust treatment. Older patients may require more engagement to help them manage chronic conditions and keep their healthcare team up to date on their symptoms. Catalia Health, based in San Francisco, have developed Mabu, a personal healthcare assistant robot to address these issues. Catalia presented Mabu at the recent AdvaMed Digital MedTech Conference in San Francisco.
Mabu uses AI technology developed over more than a decade, originally by its founder, Dr. Cory Kidd, and now advanced further by the Catalia Health team. This system includes inputs from other algorithms such as those created by Affectiva, an MIT spinoff, to engage with patients in their own home and adapt conversations to suit the patient at that particular moment. Mabu can ask how the patient is feeling and relay this information back to healthcare providers if symptoms are getting worse. Mabu provides reminds about taking medication, but importantly, if poor adherence is an issue, the robot can help to get to the root of the problem by monitoring when and how patients take their medication.
Medgadget had an opportunity to speak with Dr. Cory Kidd, founder and CEO of Catalia Health.
Conn Hastings, Medgadget: Can you provide some context on the problem that Mabu helps to address? Are patients with chronic conditions frequently medicated inappropriately as a result of low adherence or changing symptoms?
Cory Kidd, Catalia Health: Mabu addresses many of the challenges that patients with chronic conditions actually face. In other words, this is not about pill reminders, but about helping patients manage the disease and the other issues that come along with that. For some patients that might mean better management of symptoms of the condition or side effects of their treatment. For others, it might mean some of the challenges like depression or anxiety that can come along with a chronic condition.
With any of these, Mabu has a conversation with the person to give advice and help coach them through. She also lets the patient know that she will share the information with their healthcare provider so that they can provide help when needed.
Medgadget: What features does Mabu offer to help improve patient adherence and monitoring?
Cory Kidd: The key to Mabu is that she builds a relationship with a person and then talks to them each day about their condition and treatment. Through better management of all of this, Mabu is able to help keep patients on therapy for longer.
Medgadget: Catalia Health appears to have a strong focus on learning about patient psychology. Has this affected how Mabu interacts with and monitors patients?
Cory Kidd: Yes, very much so. The core of what we do is understand the challenges that patients with particular conditions face and then build up AI algorithms and content around those topics. Part of what is happening is that we build up models of the patient in the background so that Mabu can tailor conversations to that person. While part of this is based on what we know about that patient medically, it’s largely about the psychology of that individual. For example, Mabu may initially work in a joke with a new patient, and Affectiva allows Mabu to read the person’s emotional reaction to determine if the person liked the joke or not.
Medgadget: How does Mabu tailor her interactions with patients using AI? What are the benefits of AI in this context?
Cory Kidd: Mabu is building up models of a patient that allow her to tailor conversations to that individual. Using Affectiva and our AI algorithms to do this helps to ensure that the conversation is personalized to that person in a way that makes it more engaging and serves to strengthen the relationship. The ultimate benefit of this is that Mabu keeps the patient engaged for significantly longer than if we were using algorithms that simply presented canned scripts to the patient.
Medgadget: How does Mabu help caregivers work out why a patient missed a dose? Presumably, this could be a complex issue with various factors contributing to one-off or repeated missed doses.
Cory Kidd: Very simply, by asking the patient these questions. The issues vary from condition to condition and treatment to treatment, so Mabu starts off with knowledge about the challenges that the patient might be facing and then narrows down to the actual issues happening at the moment. She then offers advice immediately to the patient and then also reports that to the healthcare professionals helping that patient through their treatment.
Medgadget: How has the system worked so far? Have patients enjoyed interacting with Mabu and has she helped them to improve their treatment?
Cory Kidd: The current version of the product will start shipping to patients in two months, but this is based on work that has evolved for over a decade. With each iteration, we have seen strong acceptance from people who have used these devices for better managing their health. In fact, in early trials one of the biggest challenges was getting patients to give them back at the end of their test period! Catalia Health is very excited to be starting to ship these to patients at scale this year.
Here’s a video showing a glimpse of the technology in action:
Link: Catalia Health…