How this AI Concierge Could Get You More Time with your Physician

How this AI Concierge Gets You More Time with your Physician

By: Nic Abelian

This AI Concierge will get you More One-on-one Time with your Physician 

Patients want one thing above others with their physicians: Time. 

Much of this has been hollowed out as healthcare staff have to deal with increasing administrative tasks and pre-screening routines. Follow-up appointments are swamped by reviews of previous medical histories or insurance questions, and emergency room visits that could have been avoided over a phone call can leave patients feeling like no one is paying attention to them.

How this AI Concierge Gets You More Time with your Physician
Photo Courtesy: Rahsaan King

Cassandra, an AI digital assistant concierge, aims to change that and give back the time that matters to patients and physicians. 

Humanate Digital Inc.’s  AI digital assistant concierge currently focuses on the administrative burdens that physicians and clinical staff have to engage with prior to actually seeing a patient. This includes pre-access screening, conducting questionnaires and verifying insurance coverage.

Carlos Rodriguez, CEO and co-founder of Humanate, is part of an angel investor group and lives in College Station, home to Texas A&M University. Rodriguez wants to expand the use of Cassandra, a Texas A&M technology transfer company, through early adopter trials. Currently, three clients, including a primary care clinic, a dental clinic and a federally qualified health clinic,  are employing Cassandra for a 90-day test period. 

Rodriguez, whose two brothers are both physicians, grew up in between Mexico and the United States and became aware from an early age of disparities in healthcare in underserved communities. Rodriguez has spent the last 25 years of his life fixating on how to improve the inpatient and outpatient experience, optimizing administrative tasks to ultimately get a patient more time with their physician. 

“Being an engineer with an MBA, I’ve been taught how to solve problems and think of better workflows,” said Rodriguez, who has worked as a vice president of business operations at Baylor College of Medicine and finance director at Texas Children’s Hospital before co-founding and selling NEXT Medical Records LLC. 

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a substantial increase in use of telemedical technology and tools as face-to-face interactions were reduced and as more people were forced to log online for work. Rodriguez believes this provides a great opportunity for the AI clinical care concierge. 

Rodriguez is astounded by current data that show that it can take a patient up to 28 days to see their primary care doctor, only to see them for an average of nine minutes per appointment. Unsurprisingly, 75% of patients say they wish healthcare were more personal, but shortages in the healthcare workforce are a bottleneck. 

“We can’t keep throwing bodies at the problem when there are no bodies – this has to be an automated solution,” Rodriguez said. 

Rodriguez said patient surveys indicate patients prefer talking with Cassandra because the AI clinical care concierge doesn’t judge them. Behavioral healthcare, which Rodriguez argues has been deemed the “forgotten child” of medicine, can rely on Cassandra to engage with patients, as less than 50% of patients in the United States have access to behavioral healthcare.

Rodriguez recognizes that security and privacy are the foremost concerns, especially when advances in medical testing and results can provide as much information about a patient’s current and future situation that should only be privy to the patient. 

“What we’re doing now is based on security and privacy. That’s so important to me, and my experience with encrypting medical records is key to that,” Rodriguez said, adding that the AI would remain within the healthcare institution’s firewall system instead of a cloud-based operation. Cassandra’s designers have ensured that the AI has short-term memory so that each session with a patient is kept out of touch with anyone else.

Cassandra is wired to deal with patient intake, screening and follow-ups. With learning based on language models and policy databases, Cassandra can engage with patients in their first language and retrieve the correct insurance coverage and patient information before physician consultations. 

Rodriguez has also pointed out the importance of relying on unbiased data, as prior medical studies or research can be biased against minorities. 

Cassandra doesn’t aim to replace humans or human interaction but rather accommodate more time between patients and physicians and provide patients with the information they require instead of piling up more work that could’ve been taken care of with a call.

Cassandra can provide healthcare clinics, and especially underserved areas and populations, with a secure, reliable and efficient way of screening patients and providing them with follow-up service. With Cassandra, physicians will be able to devote more time to patients instead of dealing with administrative burdens and form filing, enhancing the patient and physician relationship. 

“We’ll never replace the human. For every product that we’ve put out there, the patient has the ability to opt-out and choose a human. We never want to take the patient interface but we would like to increase the time and quality of a patient’s interface with their healthcare provider” Rodriguez said.


Published By: Aize Perez


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