Artificial Intelligence, Part III

Part III of III

Applications in Health Care

In parts I and II, we looked at some of the core enablers that are driving today’s Cambrian explosion in Artificial Intelligence (AI).

At Synchronous, we routinely scan and map where we think the disruptive applications will be, as illustrated above, guided by some of our consultant colleagues who study the space even more intensely.

In the longer term, we can expect fully virtualized expert experiences, such as primary care visits, or even nano technology that helps repair ailments in the body. No need to plan our businesses this year around these, but the impact will be great when it comes.

At the same time, if you aren’t already using AI for claims submission, fraud analysis or other back office decision support, then you probably aren’t getting the full return from your IT investments.

We think those looking for innovation in behavioral health, will not want to be laggards by the time they adopt our solutions, nor will want to be on the earliest experimental wave, before the benefits are clear.

Where we think the sweet spot now for using innovation to leapfrog competition or create new sources of value, is in the middle of the above spectrum. So we’ve built our AI, Karla, as a digital cognitive agent (think “Siri for mental health”) on the basis of “micro data” — understanding human behavior at the individual level, moment by moment — which we believe is now ready and able to create value in this space right now, when powering a cognitive agent.

Life Context Graph

In our case, Karla builds this micro data up into graph of someone’s life context, maybe analogous to a human memory of experiences. What’s different today about yesterday? What’s going on in someone’s life that provides meaning to what just happened? 

Karla builds a graph of your life through a behavioral lens, and then uses it to provide support in the moment that someone needs it. “Kai, you're approaching the liquor store, would it be helpful to call your sponsor”. 

It turns out that building this type of machine understanding from data is not that easy, perhaps another reason there is no real “generalized AI” right now that can out-think us. While we may have a head start on this by thinking purely about behavioral health, others are certainly also in this space. Amazon’s chief of AI, for one, believes its the biggest AI challenge of the next five years. 

“All of the context and nonverbal clues, environmental clues, what’s going on in the world clues,. . . I think that’s the biggest challenge facing all of the A.I. providers in the next, as you said, five years.” 
Al Lindsay, VP Alexa Engine Software, Amazon; April 2018 Slate Interview

It’s an exciting time to be a thinker, with so many more about to wake up. 

Guy Barnard is CEO & Co-Founder of Synchronous Health, an artificial intelligence behavioral health solutions provider. He was previous Chief Information Officer at Healthways, a $2B population health company, and held leadership positions at the Boston Consulting Group and Accenture. He holds an MBA from MIT and an MA and BA from Cambridge University.