Invasion of the bots: intelligent healthcare applications at @UnitedHealthGrp

Dan Abdul, VP of technology at UnitedHealth Group (a large US healthcare company) presented at AIIM 2018 on driving intelligent information in US healthcare, and how a variety of AI and machine learning technologies are adding to that: bots that answer your questions in an online chat, Amazon’s Alexa telling you the best clinic to go to, and image recognition that detects cancer in a scan before most radiologists. The US has an extremely expensive healthcare system, much of that caused by in-patient services in hospitals, yet a number of initiatives (telemedicine, home healthcare, etc.) do little to reduce the hospital visits and the related costs. Intelligent information can help reduce some of those costs through early detection of problems that are easily treatable before they become serious enough to require hospital care, prediction of other conditions such as homelessness that often result in a greater need for healthcare services. These intelligent technologies are intended to replace healthcare practitioners, but assist them by processing more information faster than a person can, and surface insights that might otherwise be missed.

Abdul and his team have built a smart healthcare suite of applications that are based on a broad foundation of data sources: he sees the data as being key, since you can’t look for patterns or detect early symptoms without the data on which to apply the intelligent algorithms. With aggregate data from a wider population and specific data for a patient, intelligent healthcare can provide much more personalized, targeted recommendations for each individual. They’ve made a number of meaningful breakthroughs in applying AI technologies to healthcare services, such as identifying gaps in care based on treatment codes, and doing real-time monitoring and intervention via IoT devices such as fitness trackers.

These ideas are not unique to healthcare, of course; personalized recommendations based on a combination of a specific consumer’s data plus trends from aggregate population data can be applied to anything from social services to preventative equipment maintenance.

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