AI innovator talks personalized treatment, telehealth enhancement and ethics

Artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionize the way healthcare is delivered. And many healthcare professionals are exploring exactly what AI can do and deploying systems to help health systems manage care and patients manage their health.

Dr. Renee Dua is founder of Heal, which provides physician house calls in New York City, and founder of Together by Renee, a healthcare assistant app that uses generative AI.

Together by Renee is free and designed to help everyone – especially aging Americans and their caregivers – manage treatment, medication and daily healthcare. The app has been tested and vetted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the AARP.

Dua believes AI has the ability to create personalized treatment in the absence of a physician office. She also feels AI can encourage telemedicine innovation and holds strong opinions on the ethics of AI in healthcare.

Healthcare IT News spoke with Dua to discuss these subjects and get her to offer a detailed look into the AI-powered Together by Renee app.

Q. You say that AI has the ability to create personalized treatment in the absence of a physician office. Please elaborate.

A. The potential of AI in creating personalized treatment in the absence of a physical physician’s office will be a significant advancement in healthcare. AI can analyze vast amounts of medical data, including patient histories from disparate sources, research studies and current treatment protocols, to provide tailored healthcare recommendations.

For example, AI algorithms can predict individual health risks by analyzing patterns in a person’s medical history, lifestyle and genetic information. This enables proactive and preventative care, allowing for early intervention in potential health issues.

AI-driven platforms also can offer real-time monitoring and advice, especially for chronic conditions that require ongoing management. By integrating data from remote monitoring devices and mobile applications, AI can continually analyze health metrics and alert patients and healthcare providers to any concerning changes and trends.

This capability is particularly beneficial for underprivileged patients or those in remote or underserved areas where access to healthcare is limited.

Additionally, AI supports mental health treatment by identifying patterns in speech that may indicate mental health issues. Through natural language processing, AI can detect signs of depression, anxiety and other conditions, facilitating early intervention. This application is increasingly vital as mental health issues become more prevalent and health systems struggle with limited resources.

Q. What are some ways AI can encourage telemedicine innovation? And what would be the expected outcomes?

A. AI is poised to drive significant innovation in telemedicine, enhancing healthcare delivery in numerous ways. First, AI can improve diagnostic accuracy in telemedicine settings. By analyzing medical images and patient data, AI algorithms can assist healthcare providers in diagnosing diseases more accurately and quickly, even when they are not physically present with the patient.

This is particularly useful in specialties like radiology and pathology, where AI can augment the expertise of medical professionals.

AI can personalize telemedicine experiences for patients. By analyzing patient data, AI can tailor healthcare recommendations, making them more relevant and effective for individual patients. This personalization can improve patient engagement and adherence to treatment plans, leading to better health outcomes.

AI also can streamline administrative tasks in telemedicine, such as appointment scheduling, prescription refills and patient follow-ups. Automating these tasks can reduce the burden on healthcare providers and ancillary staff, allowing them to focus more on patient care and supporting an already challenged staffing model.

Additionally, AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can provide 24/7 support to patients, answering queries and offering guidance, which is particularly beneficial in managing chronic conditions.

Q. You have strong opinions on the ethics of AI in healthcare. Please spell them out.

A. The use of AI in healthcare brings several ethical considerations that must be addressed. Foremost is the issue of privacy and data security. AI systems require access to vast amounts of personal health information and it is crucial to ensure this data is handled securely and confidentially.

There also is a need for transparency in how AI algorithms use this data and make decisions, especially in diagnostic and treatment recommendations.

Another ethical concern is the potential for bias in AI algorithms. If the data used to train these algorithms is not diverse, the AI could develop biases that lead to unequal treatment of different demographic groups. Ensuring AI systems are trained on diverse datasets is essential to prevent such biases and promote equitable healthcare.

Finally, there is the question of accountability. When AI systems are used in healthcare decision making, it can be unclear who is responsible for the outcomes – the healthcare provider, the AI developers or the AI system itself.

Establishing clear guidelines for accountability is vital to ensure that patients’ rights are protected and there is recourse in case of errors or malpractice. At this time, AI should only be used in a supportive fashion to assist the healthcare physician or provider.

Q. Please describe what Together by Renee is, how it works and who uses it.

A. Together by Renee is a health app leveraging AI to revolutionize healthcare task management, particularly for aging adults, individuals with chronic diseases and their caregivers. This app is an example of how AI can simplify and enhance healthcare delivery.

The app uses generative AI to manage various healthcare tasks effortlessly. It can measure vital signs like blood pressure through simple actions such as taking a selfie or using voice recognition to detect early symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Scanning videos of pill bottles allows Together to build your health profile and know your medical conditions, doctors and medication dosages. This innovative approach allows for easy and non-invasive monitoring of health conditions, making it highly accessible to users, especially the elderly and those with chronic illnesses.

It also allows Together to share with users prescriptive insights proactively on needed tests such as imaging and bloodwork.

Moreover, Together by Renee helps in scheduling appointments, refilling prescriptions and managing healthcare tasks without the need for typing or data entry, using just the smartphone camera and voice recognition. This functionality makes the app particularly beneficial for overwhelmed caregivers, providing them with a convenient and efficient tool to manage the health of their loved ones.

Outdated systems, convoluted benefits and fragmented care create a cumbersome and stressful experience for aging Americans and their caregivers. This not only leads to a staggering $240 billion in increased healthcare costs and $500 billion in lost productivity annually but also allows easily treatable diseases like hypertension, high cholesterol, type II diabetes and mental health conditions to go untreated.

Our mission with Together is to unify every aspect of healthcare, from vitals monitoring to mental health detection, into one intuitive platform. The potential impact is enormous, especially for the nearly 100 million Americans over 50 living with more than two chronic diseases and the 53 million caregivers who often feel overwhelmed.

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This post originally appeared on TechToday.