New Trial Pushes Robotics into Remote Primary Care

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By Jonathan Collins | 2Q 2021 | IN-6196

Israeli social care robotics start-up Intuition Robotics is preparing its companion robot and AI platform targeted at the elderly but, most importantly, to be easily deployable by primary care physicians (PCPs). It believes its offering can provide a valuable communication and health management tool to a client based increasingly struggling to find ways to deliver frequent touch, long-term care management. Most importantly, it believes PCPs offer a revenue stream can support long-term, high value service subscriptions. Entering medical trials in May, Intuitions efforts could yet help shape wider appeal and delivery of aging in place offerings - an industry long struggling to win broad-scale adoption.

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Intuition Robotics ElliQ Trial Targets Healthcare Providers

NEWS


Israeli social care robotics start-up Intuition Robotics is preparing its companion robot and AI platform targeted at the elderly but, most importantly, to be easily deployable by primary care physicians (PCPs). It believes its offering can provide a valuable communication and health management tool to a client based increasingly struggling to find ways to deliver frequent touch, long-term care management. Most importantly, it believes PCPs offer a revenue stream can support long-term, high value service subscriptions. Entering medical trials in May, Intuitions efforts could yet help shape wider appeal and delivery of aging in place offerings - an industry long struggling to win broad-scale adoption.

Interaction and Advice Extending to Medical Intervention

IMPACT


Intuition Robotics ElliQ device brings robotics into the home monitoring market. Where home monitoring offerings typically provide a way of unobtrusively track an individual’s routines and general well-being, the combination of the voice interface to its ElliQ device and the AI platform behind it promises additional interactive capability.

ElliQ itself is a Personal/Social tabletop sized device with a voice interface and a ‘head’ that moves to emphasize its engagement with end-users. The interface is through voice and a bundled tablet device. Previously the devices, and the AI platform that drives interactions, had been focused on potential sales to family members and care providers looking to extend communications with vulnerable seniors living independently. The goal was to provide companionship and supporting messaging with family members but also dispense some health tips by offering wellness activities such as mindfulness or cognitive stimulation ideas.

With its latest step, Intuition is adding the ability to add direct communication between elderly patients and their PCP. This will not only allow ElliQ to prompt and collect more patient specific data that can then be used directly within their healthcare management, but also ensure PCPs are aware of a patients ongoing wellbeing in between or even in place of visits to the doctor’s office. PCPs will use a dashboard interface to the ElliQ system which can be customized to summarize patient status and any need for PCP action. Supporting the new strategy, Intuition’s system is now HIPPA certified and Intuition says integration with electronic health records will likely be supported once the product is through initial trials. An initial trial started in mid-May 2021 with Family Doctors, a Mass General Brigham affiliated practice in Swampscott, MA with a handful of patients, but the company hopes to have close to 50 patients using the system by September.

Vale-Based Care and Risk Avoidance

RECOMMENDATIONS


Home monitoring and elderly care offerings have long been stymied by a range of adoption. Nevertheless, they are targeting a real and growing need – that of making the lives of a growing elderly population living alone safer and more rewarding. Where home monitoring has made in-roads it has also supported a high monthly subscription fee, however, there has been a disconnect between how that fee gets paid. Typically, the value of the service is to those charged with caring for a remote individual when the subscription fee and the presence of the potentially intrusive technology often sits with the independent individual. A key missing aspect, in many cases, is financial aid from health insurance payers for what are non-medical assistant services.

Intuition Robotic’s decision to include PCPs in its sales approach is therefore all the more significant. Increasingly, PCPs are faced with providing preventative care. The still growing appeal of value-based care provision over the fee for service model, means there are payer funds available to PCPs to invest in improving on-going patient care and keeping them away from otherwise unnecessary and expensive hospitalizations. It also means healthcare providers face greater accountability for patient clinical and cost outcomes.

If Intuition Robotics’ ElliQ trials can show that adoption delivers real patient and PCP benefits in the management of at-risk patients, the value-based model should provide a revenue stream that can really drive value and adoption.

Given that the elderly typically have additional chronic care requirements, the funding for potential ElliQ patients is, on average, likely well above $1000 a month. Intuition Robotics maintains that ElliQ can be leveraged to spot a range of under diagnosed conditions such as depression, anxiety, mild cogitative degeneration even hydration and nutrition issues. The ongoing trials will, the company, hopes prove the value of its service and provide metrics for potential PCP customers. If the service can detect and help prevent negative changes in a patient’s health PCP savings over patient deterioration, costly hospitalization or worse, will be keenly valuable.

The company’s push into the provider channel comes on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic where PCPs were not only pushed to  leverage and value remote care systems but also saw those providers dependent on fee for service revenues the hardest hit as in-person services were curtailed.

Even so, while value-based patient care and the ACOs that support them have been growing there has been a lag in the adoption and awareness of technology and new systems to fully support a more cost aware, preventative care provision. Intuition will be pushed to ensure that its offering can be integrated into PCP workflow and that its implementation model can support primary PCP engagement as well as secondary and administrative staffing management and control.

Although just in its first trials, the combination of robot interaction, social engagement and primary care monitoring is a valuable one and one that has emerged at a key time in the transition of care provision in the US.

 

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