As pressures on healthcare systems intensify, an increasing number of consumers are turning to the use of symptom checkers in the search for fast answers – or guidance – to any concerns that they may have. But although these tools have become popular, questions around their accuracy, and not only, are plaguing the digital health space. Last week, at Slush, Ada Health cofounder and chief medical officer Claire Novorol spoke to Wired UK's Victoria Turk about the Berlin-headquartered company's approach to building trust in its AI-powered chatbot. "Absolutely key, first of all, is the quality of the product," Novorol told the audience. "So what we've always focused on from the very beginning, eight years ago now actually, is the quality of the core product, the foundation of everything that we do, and that's our knowledge base, our reasoning engine, and how it works, the clinical quality of that, accuracy, safety."
An innovative chat-bot that helps patients and doctors diagnose diseases ranging from malaria to diabetes has become the first health app to launch in Swahili. Developed by Ada Health, the app relies on artificial intelligence, large medical databases and personalised responses to assess an individual's symptoms, suggest a cause and recommend the next stage of treatment. The smartphone chat-bot is already used by roughly eight million people in more than 130 countries across the globe – published in languages including English, French and Spanish. But it has now become the first AI health application to launch in Swahili, a language spoken by almost 100 million people across East Africa – predominantly in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. According to Hila Azadzoy, the managing director of Ada's global health initiative, the expansion will help tackle a shortage of doctors and nurses in the region, where countries have fewer than one physician per 1,000 people on average.
The power of artificial intelligence to transform every field it touches is one of the unchallenged truths of our time -- but when it comes to healthcare, the technology's potential is often seen through a western lens. From hopes of faster drug discovery to systems that will help people manage chronic diseases better, the emphasis is frequently on how it can support, or otherwise make life easier, for those in the developed world. But attention is increasingly turning to how AI can address the pressing problems of poorer nations as they seek to move towards universal health coverage. In some cases, these are challenges that are distinct to the global south, but in others the problems faced in developing regions are to some extent shared by patients, physicians and payers across the globe. The Lancet's collaboration with the Financial Times on a commission on the convergence of digital health, AI and universal health coverage will concentrate on international governance and regulatory regimes.
COVID-19 has impacted the world in unprecedented ways, fast-tracking the use of digital tools and innovation to adapt. In a previous blog, we outlined six key technology trends driving social and behavioural changes in West Africa as a result of COVID-19. As we look towards life after the pandemic, we revisit some of these trends and detail key frontier technologies gaining traction in developing economies. The pandemic has driven the uptake of big data public-private partnerships for crisis response. Layering multiple types of data points (including mobile phone data, satellite imagery, ground weather measurements and open street maps) can be extremely effective when combined.