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AI firms say ‘healthcare agents’ outperform humans

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(NewsNation) — When you use an online health care service, and engage someone in a video call, you may soon have to ask yourself: is that person you’re talking to … really a person? Maybe not.

The artificial intelligence firm NVIDIA and the health intelligence company Hippocratic AI are developing “healthcare agents” to engage in remote conversations with patients.

“We can help mitigate widespread staffing shortages and increase access to high-quality care – all while improving outcomes for patients,” says Hippocratic AI cofounder and CEO Munjal Shah.


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The firm’s website lists a dozen different AI-generated healthcare agents. They include “Keisha,” what appears to be an African-American woman in nurse’s scrubs who “is designed to follow up with a patient admitted and discharged for Congestive Heart Failure,” according to the company website.

“She focuses on their follow-up care for 30 days or more post-discharge,” the site describes.

Other AI healthcare agents include Diane, who’ll check with patients managing chronic kidney disease, and Roger, who’s designed to help patients fill out health risk assessment questionnaires.

The big challenge in AI successfully working for patients is making those non-human agents look, sound and interact as a human healthcare provider would.

“Voice-based digital agents powered by generative AI can usher in an age of abundance in healthcare, but only if the technology responds to patients as a human would,” NVIDIA Vice President Kimberly Powell tells the tech website New Atlas.


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And so far, so good, say the companies. Hippocratic AI used human nurses and doctors in the U.S. to test how well the artificial agent “Keisha” performed, as opposed to human nurses. In every category – bedside manner, education, bias, safety and satisfaction, the firm says “Keisha” outrated the humans.

It stresses that, for now, healthcare agents are limited to just phone or video conversations to help patients with follow-ups, pre-op check-ins, post-op checkups and similar tasks.

NVIDIA and Hippocratic AI say that healthcare agents will help fill the huge gap in human healthcare workers, estimated to be about 10 million worldwide by 2030.

However, the cost of nursing may also be a factor. Human registered nurses earn an average of about $43 an hour. Hippocratic AI’s healthcare agents cost $9 an hour.

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