Notable aims to improve AI in health care with new $100M

This article is part of a VB special issue. Read the full series: AI and the future of health care

Notable, an intelligent automation company focused on health care, today announced it received a $100 million series B funding round. The investment, led by ICONIQ Growth with participation from Greylock Ventures, Oak HC/ FT, and F-Prime, will be used to expand access to more health care providers and enhance its capabilities, so partners achieve a higher return on investment.

The reality is that many health care providers still use repetitive, manual workflows, which cost over $1 trillion in administrative overhead per year. A patient may spend seven minutes with a physician – but that visit could result in hundreds of minutes of administrative work per clinician, according to Pranay Kapadia, cofounder, and CEO of Notable. Using AI, Notable can eliminate more than 700 minutes of that administrative work, including creating clinical documentation and adding billing codes for the insurance claim processing.

The investment points to a larger industry trend toward using AI to improve patient care and streamline processes. Care sites like Intermountain Healthcare and CommonSpirit Health already use Notable, which automates everything from patient scheduling and check-in to post-visit follow-up, as well as creating clinical documentation and adding billing codes.

Demand for AI continues to increase as patients expect a digital-first experience due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the “great resignation” that has left every industry — including health care — short-staffed. “Technology needs to drive ten times the efficiency at a quarter of the cost,” said Kapadia.

“Technology is the future of everything, and health care is no exception,” said Andrew J. Scott, founding partner of 7percent Ventures. “Artificial intelligence is already having a positive impact. Companies like Kheiron Medical can already perform mammography analysis for breast cancer better than a human.”

7percent Ventures invests in AI technology including Limbic, which uses AI for mental health triage and support, and Kherion Medical, which provides improved breast cancer diagnosis. These “are the sorts of transformative technologies that have a positive impact and improve the way we live,” he said.

Will AI Provide All Diagnoses?

Going all-in on AI in a health care setting may speed up a diagnosis – but it also takes away a physician’s autonomy in making the diagnosis and recommending treatment, according to Robert Wachter, MD, professor, and chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

“There are a lot of sources of pushback, from the physician’s ego to worries about malpractice and who is liable, to ethical issues around AI,” such as whether the data is biased, he said. For example, the data may note that patients of one race don’t need as much medication as patients of another, without taking into account that particular patient’s situation.

AI will tackle more tractable problems like workflows before heading into the more difficult ones like diagnosis and prognosis, but there won’t be a real “AI moment,” Wachter said. “You start …where the stakes are less high, with business and operational problems.”

Instead, AI will augment what physicians are doing and provide options, including triage, but ultimately leave the decision up to the physician’s discretion.

“I see AI working silently behind the scenes of the busy clinician,” said Chris Larkin, chief technology officer at Concord Technologies. “The models will continue to gather data on patient diagnosis and trajectories and update the clinician when it’s appropriate. This is more like modern avionics, working on behalf of the pilot of the aircraft.”

For example, ICU nurses hear thousands of patient alarms on their shifts, many of which are false. AI can help the nurses decide which ones are most pressing based on the patient’s diagnosis and attend to them first, Larkin said.

Some clinicians already are using AI and machine learning exactly this way. “I’ve used VIDA Insights as an AI agent to assist me in interpreting chest CTs,” said John Newell, MD, professor of radiology and biomedical engineering, director of the Radiology Image Phenotyping Laboratory, and the co-director of the Iowa Institute for Biomedical Imaging.

Additionally, AI can help lower costs for both patients and health care organizations while providing better care. “If AI can help us to diagnose disease earlier and with more accuracy, the impact on reducing the cost of patient care can be significant,” Newell said.

“For example, a patient with early-stage COPD spends about $1,600 [per] year on care versus a patient with advanced-stage COPD who spends nearly $11,000 [per] year. COPD is often diagnosed later in the disease process, so any tools that can help providers identify it early can have a massive impact on population health care costs.”

Despite the opportunities AI provides for the health care industry, humans will always be needed — and AI doesn’t aim to entirely displace them. “With all the AI in the world, [there’s still] a certain level of empathy that comes in health care,” Kapadia said, noting that, like comforting a child with a sore throat, AI isn’t needed for that.


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Tech News

Google quietly releases Android 11 public beta with few notable features

After canceling its planned Android 11 Beta Show YouTube livestream for June 3, Google Wednesday dropped the first public Android 11 beta for Pixel 2 phones and later. But if you’ve been itching to try out a bunch of new features on your Pixel, you’re not going to find much new.

The biggest changes are with message notifications. While the Notification Shade and general functionality remain, Google has added a new Conversations tab to the shade. Your messages are automatically grouped and sorted, so you don’t have to scroll through a bunch of random notifications to find the important ones. You’ll also be able to prioritize messages in the window, which will pin them to the top for easier tracking.

The other new messaging feature, Bubbles, is the most visible and potentially the most annoying addition in Android 11. As the name suggests, Bubbles, are small circles that populate your screen. When you create a Bubble by tapping the PIP (picture-in-picture) icon in a notification, a small circle will appear on your screen with the person’s picture in it—or more likely the first letter of their name against a solid color, because who really takes the time to add pictures to their contacts?

Bubbles will need to be enabled on a per-app basis, and at the moment none of them work. I couldn’t even get the feature to work with Google’s own Android Messages app, although the settings boxes were all checked.

You can tap the bubble to bring up the full conversation without launching the app, but the Bubble will stay on your screen until you act on it or dismiss it. Google says Bubbles are designed “to help you respond and engage with important conversations without switching back and forth between your current task and the messaging app.” But if it didn’t take off when Facebook tried it with Chat Heads in Messenger, I don’t see how it’s going to catch on here.

android 11 bubbles Google

In Android 11, conversations can be turned into bubbles that stay on your screen.

The other very obvious change involves the power menu. Pixel owners got a preview of this in one of the recent feature drops: It adds a wider array of options to the power button beyond the existing controls for shutdown, restart, screenshot, and lockdown. When you hold down the power button, at the top you’ll see the ones you’ll be using most often—Power-off and Restart—as well as a new red Emergency button to quickly call 911. Lockdown is still an option if you’ve enabled it in settings, but you’ll need to tap the three-button overflow menu to see it.

Below that you’ll find you Google Pay cards and passes that were previously accessible in the app. And finally, below that you’ll see your Home Control devices. Similar to the buttons in the Control Center on iOS, your phone will automatically grab these from the Home app, but you can edit what’s there by tapping the menu.

Small tweaks, not sweeping changes

You’ll find other small changes throughout. The Recents screen has a new button at the bottom of the screen for grabbing a screenshot of one of the apps, and Select shows you the text and images that can be copied. Share takes a screenshot and brings up the share sheet.

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