Two years after originally announcing it, Medtronic and IBM Watson have launched their joint platform the Sugar.IQ, a digital diabetes assistant. "It is designed for people who are currently using Guardian Connect; so made for people on multiple daily injections. It is a personal assistant a little bit like Alexa or Siri," Huzefa Neemuchwala, global head of digital health solutions and AI at Medtronic, said in a Facebook live informational session. "It is an intelligent assistant that keeps track of all of your information and has all of your information in one place. Then through Watson technology we use this information to power insights so we can better manage your diabetes so that you can spend more time in range."
Understanding changes in patient experiences is an important facet towards enhancing patient engagement and centricity. It's clear that new digital devices and AI are changing the way that patients search for medical information on the internet, based on discussions at the recent PanAgora's Pharma Customer Experience Summit in New Jersey. Voice is the new digital experience. With the rise of novel Voice User Interface (VUI) household products, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home and VUI integration in smart devices, Murray Izenwasser, VP of Digital Transformation and CMO of AAJ Technologies, discussed the big opportunity such devices offer to better connect patients with the biopharmaceutical industry. Izenwasser demonstrated that VUI device adoption has seen a faster market penetration rate compared to smart phones, TV, radio, and the Internet.
It's fun to complain that powerful Artificial General Intelligence (Hal-AI), the kind destined to enslave us, hasn't yet cured cancer. But, focusing too much on what Hal-AI can't yet do makes it easy to overlook the accomplishments of what Practical Artificial Intelligence (Siri-AI) can. For example, consider a recent article by Dr. Dave Levin, former CMIO for the Cleveland Clinic. He claims that AI currently offers little of value to healthcare, "Chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension… recognizing and treating acute conditions like sepsis, heart attacks and strokes… better prenatal care, prevention and wellness. This is where the vast burden of illness, suffering and costs lie... AI likely has little to offer here of immediate value and can divert resources and attention from these harder (and frankly less sexy) needs."
It's become a punchline in the tech industry that every start-up is out to change the world. When it comes to medical technology, however, some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley are poised to do just that. Apple, Google and Amazon have announced or are reported to be developing cutting-edge technologies for managing diabetes, one of the fastest-growing chronic illnesses, affecting more than 420 million people worldwide. Experts say we're at the dawn of a new era of personal technology for a variety of chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. "It really isn't a surprise you'd see companies like Apple and Google focusing on this," said Mike Matson, a senior analyst at the investment firm Needham & Co. "They're always looking for new opportunities for growth and healthcare is a big market."
Alexa's involvement in healthcare is about to extend well beyond putting Echo speakers in hospital rooms. Amazon has unveiled the first-ever HIPAA-compliant Alexa skills, letting you use the voice assistant to take care of sensitive medical issues. Joseph Health's skill can book a same-day appointment, for example, while Cigna and Express Scripts have introduced skills that respectively track wellness incentives and manage prescriptions. Livongo, meanwhile, has a skill for diabetics that can provide blood glucose readings and health tips. Other skills are coming from Atrium Health, Boston Hospital's post-surgery program and Swedish Health Connect.