Could Machine Learning Reduce Healthcare Costs and Improve Care?

Today’s patients want more control of their own healthcare and health data, but the current healthcare system may be limiting. “Unfortunately, current systems available in the market do not actively take into account patient needs—they are designed to serve physicians and hospitals but are not focused on meeting end-user needs,” claims Ajay Panwar, CEO and founder of Pulse, a digital health startup. “When we did our customer analysis, it was one of the popular asks that they need to have better control of their health and also define their risk level for various conditions. The current market doesn’t have anything similar to this need.”

Panwar hopes to address such patient needs by building simple, interactive systems that utilize machine learning (ML) and predict patient behaviors. In the first phase of Pulse’s development, “machine learning models would help predict the patient behaviors based on their care plan and patient compliance, and then predict what is needed to ensure the successful outcomes of their healthcare needs,” he told Design News† “Later phases would include how to ensure patients are following through with the pattern for the best possible outcomes. It would also include genetic, family-related health conditions and how those could have an impact on quality of life. We are using unsupervised machine learning models in order to predict these outcomes.”

The ML algorithms are specifically designed for each task, he explained further. “The ML models will have the capabilities to take into consideration existing assessments and calculate the user needs,” he said. “The back-end system development is in multiple languages.”

The stand-alone software could also enable patients to schedule surgeries, manage chronic conditions and appointments, arrange rehabilitation, and reach dedicated care teams if needed, he explained. “These are just basic examples; however, the end goal is to improve patient outcomes by connecting various pieces of independent healthcare systems.”

The interactive systems would give users the ability to control their healthcare. “If they need” [to be] hands-off, then the Pulse healthcare team would help them navigate through these challenges,” he said.

In a later phase of development, Pulse plans to build APIs to link to medical devices so the patient interface would be able to interact with the devices. “This is a bigger challenge to achieve; currently nothing like this exists,” Panwar said.

With multiple phases of platform development planned, Pulse will initially target high-risk populations that “have the imminent need for care coordination due to their health conditions and limitations,” he said. “We would also build a risk meter that is entirely based on the prediction model with a very limited beta error.”

Panwar shared that Pulse reached the semi-finalist round during the prestigious University of California–Irvine New Venture Competition (NVC) last year. The annual competition offers participants the opportunity to launch a startup and fund a business idea in just several months, he said.

As development continues, Pulse continues to engage with angel investors, venture capitalists, and healthcare partners looking to reinvent healthcare and overcome the obstacles causing coordination difficulties and low-value care, the company shared in a news release.

Panwar is a senior engineering manager at Medtronic and has authored articles for Design News’s sister publication MD+DI and other publications.

New Technology Era

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