Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

HealthTap Launches empathic Dr. A.I. app

William Payne
January 18, 2017
Online healthcare provider HealthTap has launched Doctor A.I., a personal Artificial Intelligence-powered “physician” that aims to help route users to doctor-recommended insights and care immediately.

HealthTap's Dr A.I. aims to the help the approximately billion people a year who search the Web for health information. Google records around 10 billion symptom-related health searches per year. 

Simple healthcare related web searches can only only provide access to content semantically-related to these symptoms. The Internet does not know how to ask follow-up questions, assess the severity of symptoms, or offer personalised recommendations of what to do next, a process known as “medical triage.” Accurate triage requires detailed knowledge of a patient’s personal health situation, making context critical to providing effective care.

HealthTap’s new Dr. A.I. aims to incorporate both context and clinical expertise of doctors. Dr. A.I. converses with the user to understand their current complaints or concerns and uses the user’s health profile to compute the probable causes of their symptoms. 

Using HealthTap’s Health Operating System (HOPES), Dr. A.I. analyses the user’s current symptoms in the context of relevant data from the personal health record they created on HealthTap, including age, gender, prior medical conditions, medications etc. Based on the user’s symptoms, Dr. A.I. uses deep learning algorithms and HealthTap’s repository of doctor knowledge and data, to apply doctor-sourced clinical expertise and guide patients to the right level of doctor-recommended care. 

Dr. A.I. can route a patient towards a variety of solutions that doctors have previously suggested to people like them in similar situations. These tailored potential pathways can range from suggesting the patient reads relevant doctor insights and content, to connecting the patient with a doctor for a live virtual consult, or from scheduling an in-person office visit with the right specialist, all the way to directing the patient to more urgent care, based on the patient’s symptoms and characteristics.

Dr. A.I. is based on collective clinical knowledge developed over the course of six-years of applying doctor-expertise to real-world patient questions, from a network of more than 105,000 licensed doctors across 141 specialties. 

“Over the past six years, we’ve collected data from tens of thousands of the leading U.S. doctors who’ve collectively triaged millions of patients throughout their careers,” said Geoff Rutledge MD, PhD, HealthTap’s Chief Medical Officer and a Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics. “We’ve used this data as a training set to prepare Dr. A.I. for helping triage patients at scale. With an average of twenty years of experience per doctor in the HealthTap Medical Expert Network, the knowledge in the network equates to hundreds of thousands of years of medical school training and more than a million years of collective medical practice experience. Applying Bayesian thinking and advanced techniques of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to the rich data we’ve collected from billions of transactions between tens of thousands of doctors and hundreds of millions of patients on HealthTap, we’ve built an expert system that can help triage people to the care they need when they need it most.”

Dr. A.I. is trained in the art of "digital empathy" to converse with people using a patient, polite and compassionate bedside manner. Using an intuitive, conversational user interface, Dr. A.I. asks intelligible dynamically-generated questions, helping people of all ages and demographics easily and conveniently understand what they could do next.

“It’s quite remarkable to see how we’ve orchestrated doctors, technology, design and data to come together and enable instant, humane triaging exactly when people need it most,” said Ron Gutman, HealthTap Founder and CEO. “Years of diligent, collaborative work of some of the brightest doctors, engineers, and data scientists combined with groundbreaking work of some of the best user experience and visual designers on the planet, have brought to life a first of its kind, smart and compassionate Dr. A.I. Wow!”