Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Canadian researchers develop AI assistant for health monitoring

Steve Rogerson
July 11, 2018
The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) is working with Montreal-based Greybox to develop a virtual assistant that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor health.
Chronic illnesses affect millions of Canadians and require them to spend considerable time in hospitals and healthcare centres. Greybox's existing TakeCare secure health monitoring platform helps patients, their healthcare providers and caregivers remotely manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and heart failure.
With the help of this virtual assistant, patients can educate themselves and manage their own progress from home, while supporting healthcare professionals in triage procedures. The virtual assistant can guide patients through tasks to collect medical data such as health parameters and lifestyle habits, and provide adaptive information based on the patient's emotional and physical state.
In addition to helping patients maintain a healthier lifestyle, the virtual assistant provides data and personalised recommendations to healthcare professionals, which translates to more quality time with doctors during visits instead of time spent filling in forms.
For patients with diseases that require specific and rigorous monitoring, such as diabetes and heart conditions, the virtual assistant is programmed to ask personalised questions targeted to the patient's condition. Data from these interactions are gathered, analysed, organised and displayed to healthcare professionals in a user-friendly manner, providing them with pertinent patient information on a regular basis.
"We are proud to participate in this collaboration to provide an accessible digital health monitoring tool for improving the health of Canadians, especially those in remote regions or with reduced mobility,” said Roman Szumski, vice-president of life sciences at the NRC. “The National Research Council's dedicated and recognised medical devices experts are creating virtual assistant applications that empower patients while creating regular and essential data transfer to their health professionals for more efficient health monitoring."
Greybox, and its clinical partners located across Canada, plan to launch the diabetes, hypertension and heart failure virtual assistant programmes in several hospitals for a commercial deployment late in 2018.
"We are pleased to be able to count on the National Research Council's expertise to expand our offer to other healthcare areas,” said Pierre Bérubé, founder and CEO of Greybox. “Their expertise in the artificial intelligence field and biomedical software engineering, as well as their access to clinicians to guide the development of a product, is a distinct advantage when it comes to developing a product that meets a specific need."
By empowering patients to self-monitor their conditions, the intelligent virtual assistant could optimise the patient's time spent with healthcare professionals. Improving the general health monitoring of patients is essential for an aging population and for patients living in remote areas where regular health services are less accessible. Caregivers can access the intelligent virtual assistant and keep track of patient conditions while obtaining educational information from the platform.