Leveraging AI for Inclusive Healthcare Solutions

Altheia Angle

From the desk of Lisa Fridland, Altheia’s COO.

I’ve been working with AI powered solutions for almost 15 years. In the beginning, the focus was on automation and trending to statistically support decision making as part of my operational roles. Later, I moved into working with predictive analytics and other more advanced AI solutions. From the beginning, the eventual power of AI and its ability to accelerate change was obvious. For me, it’s been an incredible journey to witness AI capabilities grow during this timeframe.

In today’s rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as a transformative force, promising a revolution in the way we approach medical care. With its potential to enhance accessibility, efficiency, and quality of healthcare services, AI is at the precipice of routinely being used to power inclusive solutions that cater to diverse populations. The intersection of AI and healthcare not only offers innovative tools but also presents a clear opportunity to address healthcare disparities and foster inclusivity.

Bridging Accessibility Gaps

AI-driven technologies have the capacity to bridge geographical and financial gaps in healthcare access. Telemedicine, empowered by AI, enables video and asynchronous consultations, diagnosis, and monitoring, providing healthcare access to underserved and remote communities. According to the NIH, telemedicine has shown substantial success in improving access to healthcare services, especially in rural areas where medical resources are scarce.

Personalized Care and Diagnosis

AI algorithms can analyze vast datasets to generate personalized treatment plans and predictive models. This supports the creation of tailored care plans that incorporate individual differences, including genetic predispositions, socio-economic factors, and cultural variations. For instance, AI-powered diagnostic tools like IBM Watson have exhibited accuracy in identifying diseases, thereby reducing misdiagnoses and ensuring equitable treatment for diverse populations.

It is in this space our product, Acuvia, firmly resides. Specifically, Acuvia will prioritize member outreach within a population based on not just diagnosed populations, but it will prioritize across all members based on risk profiles. That’s a major shift in approach for any entity doing case management and anyone seeking to manage population health and care intensity.

Enhancing Cultural Competence

This research paper from Johns Hopkins University discusses why cultural competency in healthcare is crucial for effective communication and understanding diverse patient needs. AI language processing tools equipped with natural language understanding capabilities can aid in translation services, enabling healthcare professionals to communicate with patients in their preferred language. Moreover, these tools can assist in recognizing cultural nuances, facilitating a more empathetic and culturally sensitive healthcare approach.

Challenges and Ethical Considerations

While AI holds immense promise in fostering inclusive healthcare, certain challenges and ethical considerations need to be addressed. Biases within AI algorithms, if left unchecked, can exacerbate existing disparities and perpetuate inequality. Therefore, it is imperative to continuously audit and refine these algorithms to ensure fairness and inclusivity across diverse demographics. It’s important to point out that those audits should be done by diverse teams of people and that the auditing team members aren’t consistently auditing the same algorithms. Equity and inclusion has to be a strategy at every step. Back in August, Jolly Nanda, our CEO and Founder, wrote a blog post talking about bias in AI and how to ensure that it’s not exacerbated.

Beyond bias, data privacy and security remain paramount. Safeguarding sensitive patient information is crucial to maintain trust in AI-enabled healthcare solutions. Comprehensive regulations and frameworks must be established to protect patient confidentiality and prevent misuse of healthcare data. From a practical application perspective, using the right tools at the right time and making sure those leveraging the tools are well-versed in their capabilities ensures that data is being used as disclosed.

Our product, Acuvia, directly addresses these challenges by leveraging clear communication about how data is being used, who can access it, and how it will be used in the creation of personalized risk profiles across our predictive models. Members choose to opt in, ensuring they’re in full control of their own data.

Future Prospects

As technology continues to advance, the synergy between AI and healthcare presents limitless possibilities. Collaborative efforts among healthcare professionals, policymakers, technologists, and ethicists can drive innovation while ensuring that AI solutions prioritize inclusivity and equity.

AI will be a catalyst for groundbreaking advancements, such as predictive analytics for early disease detection, personalized treatment regimens, and automated healthcare interventions. These innovations will not only revolutionize medical practices but also democratize healthcare, making it more accessible and equitable for all.

Acuvia, as we bring it to market, provides members and customers real-time risk assessments across 5 chronic diseases, which can be used to personalize intensity of care and enables members to intervene in their own predicted health outcomes. This begins to level the playing field across demographics because nothing is left open to interpretation – Acuvia provides both the risk profile and the corresponding expected accuracy of the prediction. Members can use this to discuss their health with their doctor, secure in the knowledge that they have a clear interpretation of the claims and clinical data being used to assess their health.

The integration of AI in healthcare holds tremendous potential to revolutionize the industry and change the way patient-centered care is delivered. As AI continues to evolve, the potential for inclusive healthcare solutions expands exponentially. The key lies in harnessing this technology responsibly and ethically, ensuring that it benefits everyone, regardless of background or circumstance.

In this era of technological innovation, the union between AI and healthcare stands poised to redefine the future of medicine—one that is inclusive, empathetic, and accessible to all.

Jolly

The Case for Investing in Health Literacy

Altheia Angle

From the desk of Jolly Nanda, Altheia’s CEO.

As someone who has always been passionate about improving healthcare and providing individuals with knowledge they need to make educated decisions, I’m excited to delve into a topic that holds immense promise and potential – the economic benefits of investing in health literacy programs. Not only do these programs have a profound impact on individual well-being, but they also have the power to transform a broader economic landscape. In other words, it’s not just about better health; it’s also about a healthier economy.

Health literacy is more than just understanding medical jargon; it’s about equipping individuals with the skills and knowledge needed to make informed decisions about their health, understand the information being provided to them, and to be able to navigate an increasingly complex healthcare system. Some of the benefits of improved health literacy are better decision making, improved communication between patients and providers, increased engagement – especially around preventative care, a reduction in health disparities that improves public health, and lower health care costs.

Research has shown that low health literacy is associated with higher healthcare costs, more frequent hospitalizations, and even lower overall economic productivity. In contrast, improving health literacy can reduce these costs and create a healthier, more productive population.

Success Stories in Health Literacy

Let’s take a moment to celebrate the incredible achievements of organizations that have invested in health literacy initiatives. One remarkable success story comes from the “Plain Language Health Information” project in Australia. By simplifying medical information and making it more accessible, they have empowered individuals to take control of their health. This program has not only resulted in better health outcomes but also saved millions of dollars in healthcare costs.

Another success story that stands out is the “Ask Me 3” initiative implemented by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). By promoting the simple concept of encouraging patients to ask three vital questions during their healthcare visits, the IHI witnessed significant improvements in patient understanding and engagement. This translated into fewer medical errors, reduced hospital readmissions, and, importantly, lower healthcare costs. For every dollar invested in the “Ask Me 3” program, there was a return of $32, demonstrating the immense cost-saving potential of improving health literacy.

Another inspiring example is the “Text4Baby” program in the United States. By providing expectant mothers with timely health information via text messages, the program has led to healthier pregnancies, fewer premature births, and substantial cost savings in neonatal care. These initiatives demonstrate the immense potential of investing in health literacy.

At Altheia, we’re launching our new SaaS product, Acuvia, which will establish a framework for us to use to build more post-launch functionality that will be designed specifically to address both health equity and health literacy. Our MVP predictive models already include expanded health equity data that is unmatched in the current market. Our long-term road map includes additional predictive data set expansion and more focus on taking our predictive results and helping our members better understand how to approach improving their health. Expanded data will drive better, more personalized results and provide better insights to both customers and members will significantly improve outcomes.

For those interested in funding health literacy initiatives, here’s a roadmap to guide your efforts:

A Roadmap for Stakeholders

  1. Identify Key Partners: Collaborate with healthcare providers, government agencies, and community organizations to create a robust support network.
  2. Assess the Need: Identify the specific health literacy needs of your target population. Use surveys and data to pinpoint the most pressing issues.
  3. Develop Clear Objectives: Set clear, measurable goals for your health literacy program, whether it’s improving patient communication, enhancing health education materials, or training healthcare staff.
  4. Invest in Education: Provide training to healthcare professionals on effective communication and plain language techniques. Ensure they understand the value of health literacy.
  5. Engage the Community: Partner with community leaders and organizations to raise awareness and build trust.
  6. Advocate for Policy Change: Support policies and initiatives that promote health literacy and clear communication in healthcare.

The economic benefits of investing in health literacy programs are undeniable, and the success stories of organizations like the IHI and Text4Baby serve as proof that these investments can lead to significant cost savings. If you’re a stakeholder interested in funding such initiatives, follow the roadmap above to ensure your resources are well-utilized and the benefits are maximized. Not only will you help people lead healthier lives, but you’ll also be contributing to a healthier economy.

Alternatively, at Altheia, we’re still in our seed funding round. An investment with us will help us introduce a solution that will make significant contributions to health equity and health literacy initiatives in health care. Investments in 2023 are eligible for a 25% tax credit from the state of Minnesota, irrespective of where the investor resides. If interested, email us at info@altheia.com.

For those who like to delve into the data, several sources provide comprehensive evidence of the economic benefits tied to health literacy:

Data Sources and Evidence

  1. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is a treasure trove of studies and reports. They consistently publish findings on the relationship between health literacy and health outcomes, with a focus on cost savings.
  2. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) offers reports and publications that explore the economic implications of low health literacy. They highlight how investments in health literacy can lead to a more efficient and cost-effective healthcare system.
  3. Health Literacy Studies by the Health Literacy Studies research group provide in-depth analyses of the relationship between health literacy and healthcare utilization, cost, and quality.

Investing in health literacy is not just a moral imperative, it’s a smart economic choice. By giving individuals the knowledge to make informed health decisions we can reduce healthcare costs, improve individual well-being, and ultimately foster economic prosperity. The success stories of organizations that have already taken this path serve as a testament to the immense potential of health literacy programs.

 

Jolly

Altheia Corporate Values

Altheia Angle

From the desk of Lisa Fridland, Altheia’s COO.

The fusion of AI and predictive analytics has ushered in a new era of possibilities, where innovation not only improves patient outcomes but also transforms the corporate landscape. As the COO of Altheia, I am thrilled to share our core corporate values with you, the driving force behind our mission to make a difference in healthcare and our foundation for everything we do.

Creativity: Innovation Beyond Boundaries

In healthcare, creativity isn’t just about designing a product; it’s about reimagining the entire experience.  We believe that healthcare should evolve continuously. We foster a culture of creative thinking within our team, encouraging exploration beyond the traditional boundaries of healthcare, pushing the envelope of what’s possible. It’s through creative thinking that we develop groundbreaking AI algorithms, predictive models, and healthcare solutions that will revolutionize the approach to chronic disease management and individual health journeys.

Curiosity: Nurturing the Inquisitive Mind

We thrive on asking questions and seeking answers, working to solve problems previously characterized as too daunting or complex. Curiosity keeps us at the forefront of the latest developments in healthcare technology. It encourages us to explore new data sources, refine algorithms, and fine-tune our solutions. It’s through curiosity that we uncover the new insights that have the potential to transform healthcare.

Equity + Inclusion: Health for All

We firmly believe that healthcare should be accessible to everyone, irrespective of their background, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. Equity + Inclusion are not mere buzzwords for us; they are guiding principles. Our team is diverse, representing a mosaic of perspectives and backgrounds. This diversity fuels innovation and helps us craft solutions that address the unique needs of all communities. We are champions of equitable healthcare, advocating for equal access and care for every individual and creating solutions to increase health literacy to help people take control of their own health journey.

Integrity: The Moral Compass

Integrity is the backbone of any organization, but in healthcare, its significance is magnified. We commit to upholding the highest ethical standards, ensuring that trust is paramount. Our dedication to integrity extends beyond our solutions; it’s ingrained in every decision we make. Whether it’s data privacy, patient consent, or fair pricing, we stand firm in our commitment to doing what is right.

Outcomes: Measuring What Matters

In healthcare, outcomes matter most. It’s not just about generating data; it’s about using that data to drive meaningful change and decision support. Our commitment to outcomes means that we rigorously evaluate the impact of our solutions. We measure success in terms of improved patient care, reduced costs, and increased efficiency. Every innovation we will introduce will be designed to make a tangible difference in healthcare delivery.

At Altheia, our journey is just beginning. We are excited to launch our clinical validation study, and to continue working alongside healthcare stakeholders and partners who share our vision. We are on the cusp of delivering a product that embodies these values— a product designed not just to meet the needs of the healthcare sector but to launch a framework to help address long-standing issues around health equity and health literacy.

As we move forward, we invite you to join us on this journey. If you’re interested in investing with us, you can contact us here, or you can show your support by following us on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or X to cheer us on. I’d also encourage you to check out our podcast series, Altheia Amplified.

Together, we can make a profound impact: improving people’s understanding and management of their own health and creating healthier communities across diverse populations. Stay tuned for updates on our progress and get ready to be a part of a brighter, healthier, more equitable future.

Jolly

Altheia’s Mission

Altheia Angle

From the desk of Jolly Nanda, Altheia’s CEO.

At Altheia, we’re on a mission to improve the way clinical case managers prioritize, identify, and treat their members with chronic diseases as we introduce our product, Acuvia, to the market. It’s a simple concept but it has so many implications across the healthcare ecosystem.

Today, chronic disease management is done retrospectively using claims data as the standard and takes a one-size-fits-all approach to outreach. According to this McKinsey study, moving to a model where outreach is individualized through an intensity of care strategy, the people who could benefit from case management would be prioritized and that could prevent them from doing irreparable damage to their health while increasing ROI for care management companies.

Our new product, Acuvia, supplements traditional data sources with social determinants of health data and member-provided longitudinal data. Using this expanded dataset to not only surface already diagnosed patients, Acuvia also predicts who is undiagnosed and who might be at future risk. Acuvia then does a relative prioritization within the population, providing a full spectrum of risk profiles and priority to the care management company, and individualized risk assessments to the members across 5 chronic conditions.

If we dig deeper into what using this expanded dataset means in terms of our mission, we must take into consideration the systemic inequities and biases already inherent in the healthcare system.

Here are some examples of these:

In the US, women were not required to be included in clinical research until 1993 when the NIH Revitalization Act was passed by Congress.

Gender bias resulting in disbelief in symptoms: This 2018 study found that that gender bias in pain management found that physicians, irrespective of their own gender, viewed men with chronic pain as “brave” and/or “stoic” while women with chronic pain were viewed as “emotional” or “hysterical”.

This report from the Medical Research Foundation in the UK found that women are over 50% more likely to be misdiagnosed when suffering a heart attack, resulting in more serious outcomes, including death. This is attributable to the research around heart attack symptoms being done on men, and later understanding that women present differently in the clinical setting.

Racial bias resulting in decreased care: This Harvard article references a number of studies that show physicians underestimate the pain experienced by people of color and many avoid prescribing stronger pain medications based on an erroneous assumption that they are more likely to abuse drugs than white people.

This medically-reviewed article from Forbes highlights a growing issue around obesity bias. As Americans from the US are increasingly overweight, long-held beliefs that obesity is purely the result unhealthy decisions of the individual versus a complex disease that also involves the intricate interplay of genetics and environmental factors, is resulting in lower quality of care and poorer outcomes for more people.

These types of biases impact medical treatment for a vast number of diseases, including those we are currently focusing on here at Altheia: heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, hypertension and COPD. With more diversity in our data and an acknowledgement that these biases are both problematic and widespread, the healthcare sector can easily begin addressing these disparities and inequities without significant incremental cost in the underlying infrastructure: data is already being aggregated; patients are already being seen; and, studies are already being done. What we need across the ecosystem is awareness, education, and a systematic approach to technology that mitigates the risk introduced through systemic bias.

Care and disease management has been an important component in the healthcare ecosystem for two decades without much evolution beyond using historical medical data and segmenting at the population level. Acuvia will help companies in this sector approach population health management in a whole new way: individualized and relevant data at the right time, resulting in better care, lower costs and a healthier member.

In our predictive models, we are collecting a significant amount of data from claims, lab results, clinical chart data and social determinants of health data provided by members. Any incremental cost in bringing in the data diversity is negligible; however, the benefits of being able to use it are enormous. Not only can we see new correlations, but we can also use it to make our models even more individualized to improve outcomes for people.

And that brings us back to our mission: making healthcare personal and bringing a product to market that will address long-standing disparities and inequities in the healthcare sector. Making a difference for everyone is what drives us every day.

Jolly