Powering telemedicine with artificial intelligence
We spoke with Kim-Fredrik Schneider, Co-Founder and CEO of Abi Global Health, about the ways his company is using artificial intelligence to augment the telemedicine experience. We then asked Dominic Gantner, CSO for Austria & SEE at Allianz Partners, why they chose to partner with Abi and the benefits for their customers.
You said “the best health app is having no app at all”. Could you tell me more about how your telehealth solution works?
Kim-Fredrik Schneider: Abi is a medical micro-consultation service which gives people 24/7 access to trusted doctors inside the world’s most popular chat apps, like WhatsApp, Telegram, Viber, even SMS.
Users send their health question to Abi, our Artificial Intelligence analyzes the question and our Machine Learning algorithms match it with the best available doctor. Abi then shares the doctor’s answer with the user. It’s as easy as getting advice from a friend.
This “live Q&A” approach is asynchronous, but happens in real time. We are able to match people to a doctor in under a minute and get them the information they need to make a better decision about their health. Because the interaction is asynchronous, it is hyper-efficient, taking only a minute or two of a doctor’s time per consultation. Yet the impact is extraordinarily high, with more than 70% of consultations saving people a visit to the doctor.
We believe passionately in improving access to reliable health information. It is access to care which informs our approach to telemedicine. Abi makes reliable, professional health information available to everyone with a mobile phone—with no need for the latest smartphone or even an internet connection.
Who are these doctors who answer users’ questions?
Kim-Fredrik Schneider: We work with an invitation-only network of specialist and generalist doctors who have been vetted and trained by our Medical Team. We use sophisticated proprietary machine learning algorithms to allocate medical cases to these doctors and support their work with Abi. Our in-house medical team monitors performance and quality, but the most important feedback comes from our users, and doctors are prioritized based on feedback from the people who use our service.
We have designed our platform with data ethics at its core, so our customers’ identities are protected, while our doctors’ identities are transparent for the end user.
How do you use AI?
Kim-Fredrik Schneider: We use Abi to enhance, not replace, real doctors. Our user interface uses AI to deliver the service inside the world’s most popular chat apps (WhatsApp, Telegram, Viber, Skype, SMS). We use Natural Language Processing to analyze, parse, and categorize medical questions and our Machine Learning algorithms match these questions with the right doctor based on country, language, availability, area of expertise, and user rating.
The entire process is instant, which allows us to match with a doctor within a few seconds. By using this asynchronous ‘Live Q&A’ approach, we are able to reduce physician time per case by 85% vs synchronous telemedicine consultations (by chat, phone, or video). By using real doctors, users trust the service and we are able to help people avoid a medical visit for 70% of cases.
Could you tell me about a successful collaboration you have with an insurance company?
Kim-Fredrik Schneider: We work with large global insurance companies as well as specialist travel, domestic health, and PMI insurers in 14 markets in Europe, Asia and Africa.
For example, the world’s largest insurtech company has chosen us as an ecosystem partner to add value to their digital life and health insurance products in east Asia. The largest national health insurance company in a Central European country bundles Abi with their mass market and high value products to help differentiate from their competitors. And a global top three insurer partners with us to integrate Abi into their health and travel products for millions of customers in nine countries to improve their customer engagement and improve their claims ratios.
What is the impact of the implementation of Abi’s solution for an insurance company such as Allianz?
Dominic Gantner: Now more than ever insurance companies need to offer the best possible technology to their customers. Abi’s combination of artificial intelligence and a network of trusted doctors offers not only value and convenience for the end-customer but also a solution that provides great opportunities to improve overall efficiency and reduce cost.
At Allianz Partners, we're always on the lookout for organizations and technologies that can really enhance our value proposition, and due to the great successes of our pilots with ABI, we have decided to enter a strategic partnership.
From the position of an insurance company, there are three key aspects that make a telehealth solution really stand out. The first one is a boost in engagement. The entry barrier to use a text-based micro-consultation, is quite low. So, we see utilization rates that are way higher than with usual telephone or video consultations. We get very good customer feedback on ABI, which tells us that the people who use it, value the service greatly.
The second point is scalability. With the ABI solution, we independent of any specific app – no download required. So, we could use SMS, we could use WhatsApp, we could use Viber. And also, the way that AI is used as a moderating tool to connect real physicians with the end-customer, makes the solution really scalable.
Thirdly, from the point of view of an insurance company, of course any venture needs a positive return on investment. When we look at cost containment potential, we see tangible effects by being able to reduce unnecessary doctor visits and also by being able to steer patients to exactly the doctors we can recommend.