AI in AgeTech, Part 2: Collaborative™ Startups Leverage the Power of Generative AI

By Mark Ogilbee posted 07-06-2023 11:06 AM


Largely thanks to the public release of ChatGPT-3 in 2022, artificial intelligence (AI) has leapt into the headlines, reigniting conversations about its benefits and potential pitfalls. But although it’s the hot topic of the day, forms of AI have in fact been around for decades, and many tech innovators — including many AgeTech Collaborative™ (ATC) startup participants — have been leveraging the power of AI behind the scenes to build their products and services for a long time. 

In this second part of a series, we take a look at how two ATC startups are using generative AI to simplify the lives of caregivers and the loved ones they care for. 

Amicus Brain is a digital health platform that leverages the power of AI to reimagine care management for people living with neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia. Its app features a personalized advisor named Keiko that caregivers can talk to using natural language, and Keiko replies with personalized, curated information that’s relevant and actionable. 

Amicus Brain’s founder and CEO, Dr. Chitra Dorai, has a PhD in computer science, so using AI to power Keiko was a natural fit. Crucially, Dorai wanted to make sure caregivers could interact with Keiko using everyday, conversational language. “I didn’t want to build a complicated app with buttons and drop-down options and tabs,” says Dorai. I wanted to build something that provided the same level of comfort and trust as interacting with a human advisor.” 

AI makes this possible by getting to the heart of every query, no matter how the caregiver might phrase the issue. “Regardless of how the caregiver expresses the question, Keiko is able to get to the core intent and need being expressed,” says Dorai. “Someone could say, ‘Mom is being unusually combative today,’ or ‘Mom is verbally abusing me,’ and the AI understands that aggression — which is a behavioral symptom of dementia — is the heart of the matter.”  

Understanding the fundamental issue at the center of a query allows Keiko to provide more helpful responses and suggestions, tailored to each situation. Dorai explains how the conversational AI makes this possible: “People try to reductively say that it’s a chatbot, but it’s far beyond a chatbot. Underneath these large-scale language models is the science of understanding the structure of natural language. The same transformer model at the foundation of ChatGPT is what drives the natural language understanding in Amicus Brain.” This, in turn, helps Dorai turn her vision for a simple-to-use app into a reality. The conversational AI breaks down the barrier of digital fluency because it’s very intuitive, she says. 

Together by Renee is a digital platform that helps aging Americans complete everyday healthcare tasks from taking medications to scheduling doctor appointments — all by consolidating everything in a single app. Renee even helps clients save on their prescription medications and delivers them right to their door  

Nick Desai, Together by Renee’s CEO, says AI is a game-changer: With traditional optical character recognition technology, if you scanned the label of a pill bottle, letters might get cut off and information missed because the bottle is a cylindrical object," Desai says. "But if you fed the same image into generative AI, the AI will recognize things and fill in the gaps, the same way a human would. That potential applied to healthcare is transformative in an incredibly powerful way.” 

Case in point: Together by Renee recently released an app called Together that uses AI to vastly simplify many healthcare-related tasks. “Together is a health assistant that uses AI to do things for you,” says Desai. You take pictures of your pill bottles, and from there we know when your refills are due, so we send you a refill reminder five days before you run out of pills. Then the AI actually calls the pharmacy to order your refill for you. And if your bottle says zero refills, we let you know 15 days beforehand that you need to call your doctor to ask for a refill. You can take pictures of your insurance cards and appointment cards, and Together uses AI to process and consolidate all that information automatically.” 

Together also uses a novel AI approach to measuring key vitals, such as blood pressure, using just a selfie: Any user can point their phone's camera at their face, and in just 45 seconds they will get measurements for blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygen and more. Desai says this unifies the app. "Imagine the typical person with high blood pressure,” says Desai. Together reminds them to take their blood pressure medications, orders their refills and helps them measure their blood pressure and Together tracks all that in one place to close the loop with their doctor." This kind of closed-loop, whole-person care is proven to improve health outcomes and lower costs.   

Desai explains why this is more important than mere convenience: “For the 80 million Americans who have a chronic disease such as diabetes, there’s no secret to better health. Taking your pills correctly and seeing your doctor for health exams is better health, period. Together helps you get those things done by automating the most basic, cumbersome barriers to good healthcare, such as booking appointments and medication refills.” 

Just as importantly, the AI behind Together positions all the information inside the bigger picture. “That’s the beauty of AI,” says Desai. “This data all has to be put in context — not just what’s going on with the patient, but also for caregivers who are dealing with the health issues of loved ones.” 

Desai is optimistic about the power of AI to transform the future of healthcare. “It’s an exciting time in the world of healthcare,” he says. “We have an aging population, and we also have an incredible shortage of caregivers in America, and little caregiver infrastructure. But AI is coming in at a critical time to alleviate a lot of that burden.” 

See Part 1 in the series here, Part 3 here, Part 4 here, Part 5 here and Part 6 here.