The true promise of technology is to amplify the best traits in humanity. It doesn’t always seem like that, and I’ll admit there are legitimate concerns about the possible negative impact of the fourth industrial revolution. However, being the hallucinogenic optimist that I am, I like to focus attention on the bright spots that show us a beautiful future.
I’ve recently invested in one of those bright spots. Visit is a startup in India that amplifies humanity — while solving a very big and serious problem. Visit plans to democratize healthcare by shrinking the shortage of doctors using AI. According to the World Health Organization, the world suffers from a shortage of at least 7.2 million health-care workers.
In India, for every doctor there are 2,000 patients lined up in-clinics—waiting for hours. Accessibility to quality health advice is an overwhelming problem in a country with over 200 million people affected by lifestyle problems like stress, chronic conditions, obesity, skin conditions, and more. This is where the technology approach by Visit comes in.
Visit is an AI powered chatbot for health advice learning from, and assisting, existing doctors. People interact with the Visit chatbot by sharing some symptoms. The bot follows up with relevant questions to collect more symptoms and risk factors (is the person hypertensive, diabetic, a smoker). This triaging is conversational, and low stress.
Something I’ve learned from working at Google and from my own search service, Jelly, is that the majority of queries are the same. We’re all just people—the same stuff happens to all of us over and over again. Visit’s AI will learn from the interactions between patients and health care professionals and get good on it’s own diagnosing common ailments.
People will likely be more truthful with a bot than a person too. Visit chats conclude with patients being more educated about possible conditions, symptoms, and treatments. Behind the scenes, an inference engine is at work so the machine learning model can determine the most probable diagnosis. It’s all made possible because people are in the loop.
The machines are trained using over 20,000 probabilistic relationships between variables such as conditions, symptoms, risk factors, past history, and more. Once a probable medical condition is determined, Visit connects the patient to one of over 2,000 health specialists all across India via video, phone, or chat so the right treatment can be put into place.
But it doesn’t end there. People can stay in touch with their practitioner over chat for follow-up. The objective is not to replace the doctor but to help practitioners in an assistive way by regular patient check-ins and reminders related to their care plan—including medication reminders, activity notifications, prescription re-fills, and other key factors.
Visit facilitates a symbiotic relationship between AI and doctors, making a hugely positive impact for patients. This is why I can get so optimistic about technology amplifying the best in humanity. Investing in Visit is my small way of contributing to a future where AI is seen as a positive enhancement of humanity that really does improve lives.