Ada AI Chatbot helps Sutter Health Overcome Challenges of Covid-19

by | Aug 3, 2021

3 mins

Sutter Health teams up with Ada AI Chabot to provide a personalized symptom assessment platform with Chris Waugh, Chief Innovation Officer at Sutter Health. The MarsPod How AI is Changing Society host by Mark Wesley, Marketing Manager, at MarsCrowd.

[00:09:51] MarsPod: What is the project that presented itself from what you just mentioned in the pandemic? 

[00:10:00] Chris Waugh: If you recalled back to the beginning of COVID, it wasn’t always clear what all the symptoms of COVID were. Now in hindsight, it’s pretty obvious, right? We knew there were fever, chills, and all these symptoms that we all know today, but at the time, that was all being unpacked and uncovered in real-time.

[00:10:30] Chris Waugh: That you had many systems gearing up to try to figure this out, so we’ve been working with an AI partner called ADA. ADA is a really interesting company. It isn’t very easy on the backend, but it’s a beautiful design with an elegant front-end layer. It’s a very simple, elegant design.

[00:10:51] Chris Waugh:  What it does is it starts asking patients essentially what’s going on and what the symptoms are. I think it’s important to say that the language is human-relatable. It’s not medical terminology. You can explore through ADA. If it asks you a question and you don’t understand it, we’ll unpack what you’re asking and what it means.

[00:11:13] Chris Waugh:  So it’s putting together a constellation of symptoms and then presenting a recommendation. So it’s not making a formal diagnosis, but it’s saying there’s a probability that this may be happening to you. And if you can imagine what that was doing for us. We continued to see and have seen over 500 visits per day of people using this symptom checker to get a sense of: “what’s going on with me”, “what should I be doing about this? where should I be going?” And on the receiving side for us, it allowed us to put people in the right place. Taking care of everything from “it’s okay to take care of this at home” and “you need to get to the ER” to a primary care physician would be the right one here, maybe an urgent care visit.

[00:12:04] Chris Waugh:  It’s allowing us to get people into suitable venues of care delivery. And that’s extremely useful for us from an efficiency and cost perspective and just getting that patient what they need as soon as possible. So it’s an amazing piece of technology. As the machine is used, it gets smarter and smarter, and the algorithm gets better and better.

[00:12:26] Chris Waugh: They had a COVID release, which was explicitly about COVID symptoms. As an incredible tool and the way we knew, it was valuable as the people were using it. It was as simple as that — is the default sense from a healthcare system as if a person has a symptom, then we must try to find an appointment for them.

[00:12:49] Chris Waugh:  And this moved the whole conversation upstream to say if you have a symptom. First and foremost, you want to know what’s going on right now. You’re talking to me in this podcast, and it’s very early in the morning where you are. And what we like to say about this technology is your body doesn’t care. What time of day is  your body doesn’t operate during business hours and healthcare systems. You know, certainly, there are parts of our system that are always on and always open, but not all of it. For example, the majority of it is closed during the night. But technology like ADA is always on so we can see what time of day people are coming in, what they’re looking for, what’s happening.

[00:13:54]  Chris Waugh:  And they’re (patients) getting peace of mind. which is the most important thing. (making it clear for them) “Can this wait until the morning? How concerned should I be?” And you can start to see where this goes over time—a constellation of symptoms. Put together, over time. You can look up symptoms of a loved one. So it’s not always just for you. It could be for somebody else. And we’re just really encouraged by the technology and the design of the product.

[00:13:54] MarsPod: So it acts as a triage chatbot, is that correct?

[00:13:58]  Chris Waugh: And I think what surprises people is ADA asks many questions, and two things happened when we released it

[00:14:08]  Chris Waugh: If you’re not sick and you’re testing ADA—we noticed that people would do many questions. So it’s like— if you’re actually sick—it feels very thoughtful. It feels very thorough. And it feels like—I don’t know where the machine’s going with that question.

[00:14:08]  Chris Waugh: It’s able to ask more questions about more things than we might be able to do, even in a clinical encounter just based on bandwidth or time. Now, if you’re not sick, someone will say, “it’s too many questions”, “It takes too long” — but if you’re not feeling well, it’s reassuring that the machine is being so thorough. And you can see the machine at work.

[00:15:00]  Chris Waugh: It is taking in a direction. And then, based on a series of answers, you can see it maybe reeling back and bringing someone towards this trajectory. So our funny recommendation for anybody who wants to try it is that “head lice” is the fastest way through the platform. So if you’re going to give it a go, just put in what you think are head lice symptoms, and you’ll, you’ll get through that.

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