Remember the last time you had to go to the hospital or to see your primary care provider: you left the building with a set of instructions about your medications, perhaps even placed in a shiny folder.
Did you actually follow these instructions? Or, the moment you got home, you wish you had more help?
For patients who came home to discover they have a bunch of follow-up questions about their condition, a startup born out of Harvard Medical School is trying to be of assistance. Memora Health, which has been based in the Harvard Innovation Labs for three years, built a virtual assistant that has been trained with artificial intelligence to answer the questions patients may have in between visits. “Felix,” the name of the virtual coach, works via text messages and it’s meant to automate the communications between physicians and patients, CEO Nisarg Patel said in an interview.
Patel, a fourth-year doctor of dental medicine candidate at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, said that Memora Health has its roots in the observations he made in 2014. As a first-year student, he noticed that a lot of patients were coming in and out of the hospital very frequently.
“They were even given the term ‘frequent flyers,'” Patel said.
It turned out that many of these patients didn’t have the right information or the support system to manage chronic conditions at home, according to Patel, and that’s something he and his co-founders (recent graduates from Georgia Tech Manav Sevak and Kunaal Naik) decided to tackle with software.
Similar to another Harvard innovation Lab startup that built a virtual assistant for students enrolling in college, Memora Health monetizes its business by selling its virtual assistant to institutions – in this case, not schools and universities but private practices and specific departments in hospitals, which then use the service with patients.
Patel said that once customers sign the contract, the company set up an integration with their health record system. On their side, hospital departments add a line in their discharge papers with a phone number that patients can text. The onboarding process can take from two to four weeks, Patel said, with average pricing around $20 for one patient a month – however, Patel added that most of the company’s contracts are custom-made.
“Our A.I., which is called Felix, is built to talk the way a nurse would talk with a patient over the phone, and it can answer questions that patients have about both their own health as well as how to better manage their [prescriptions],” Patel said.
Memora Health said it’s currently working with two hospitals in the form of paid pilots – Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston and Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta – as well as two private practices in California, where the team of six just set up its new operating base in Mountain View.
The company received a $25,000 investment from Rough Draft Ventures in 2017.