EIT Digital funds Prepdoc: A virtual assistant which helps old people training themselves for medical consultations

EIT Digital funds Prepdoc: A virtual assistant which helps old people training themselves for medical consultations

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Healthcare is a tricky topic for most of us. The older we get, the harder it becomes to obtain high quality and early diagnosis. This may be owing to trust issues or plain lethargy in reaching out to the general practitioners and specialists in the healthcare system. Elderly face a real risk of such behavior.

Prepdoc aims to find a solution to this problem, by preparing the elder patients ahead of their medical consultation via an application that they can run in a browser on computers or tablets. Funded by Europe’s leading driver of digital innovations and accelerators for the tech startups, EIT Digital, Prepdoc is part of the Digital Wellbeing Action Line for 2018, with the University of Utrecht as activity lead.

In an exclusive conversation with Silicon Canals, Johan Kortas, Action Line Leader at Digital Wellbeing divulged details on Prepdoc and said, “EIT Digital and the Action Line Digital Wellbeing is involved in a lot of digital activities related to health&wellbeing and Prepdoc is one of them. This unique product focuses on the elder people who have troubles in medical consultation. This project was started in 2018 and now we really look forward to the results which will benefit prevention and detection as well as improvement of medical diagnosis and treatment among the older people in the Netherlands.” 

He also added, “In the Netherlands, 90% of old people use computers so they have the right tool to get them digitally prepared. We believe, Prepdoc helps us to make the best diagnosis and shared decision and agree on the right treatment.”

At the same time, here are there ways how Prepdoc can help the elder patients, medical professionals, and institutions.

#1 Quick training via web-application

Just before a consultation, elderly patients receive a brief training from Prepdoc, in which they can talk to a virtual character (Like a serious game). They practise a consult situation with a virtual training-doctor and become aware of what to expect and how to address their needs.

This empowers them to give a better description of their situation and helps them to build their trust in their healthcare professional. Hence results in making better decisions about desired care and treatment.

#2 Virtual assistants speak in English and Dutch

Prepdoc, as a platform, provides quite a realistic training scenario as seen in the official demo link.

The patients can customize their avatar and the virtual assistant can speak English and Dutch as well. As per the official company press release, a pilot will be  conducted with 50 elderly patients and  a separate pilot  will  run at the Bartholomeus Gasthuis in Utrecht (a multi-care provider with nursing homes, assisted living and retirement homes), and other nursing homes in the Netherlands.

On this Johan Kortas also added saying, “Every country has a different language in Europe. Right now, in the Netherlands, we have English and Dutch. It is a good start for the product to be integrated with these two languages. Further, we also plan to proceed to the UK where there is a completely different scenario.”

“So we are first testing in the Netherlands and then we will be moving to different countries in the future. With the help of the Dialog Trainer, the startup responsible for the product, we are planning to expand in different countries and distribution channels and markets. They have a lot of experience in dialogue training in the virtual environment.”

#3 Flexible learning environment

Prepdoc has been prepared from the ground up to include several input methods and uses AI to make it user-friendly for the most technologically challenged. At the same time, the product provides quite a flexible learning environment for elder people, it gives them time to prepare and a comfortable setting to get more information on their physical and mental well-being without the fear of being judged for asking too many questions.

Johan Kortas notes, “Prepdoc is a B2B concept but it’s usage is on the consumer-end. It’s easy to use as elderly people will get a link from the nursing home or hospital, or their general practitioner and then they can simply use it on their computer or tablet. It is a web-based application and later there may be  also a smartphone app available for the same.”

“Currently, Prepdoc as a communication software is targeting the end user market of independent living elderly peopleand special care centers like nursing homes. It will be available through home doctors ,  nursing homes and hospitals and also patient organizations can be the ambassador for this program,” concluded Johan Kortas.

The Digital Wellbeing Action Line leverages digital technologies to help people stay healthy (prevention and early detection) or cope with an existing chronic condition. It includes both physical and mental wellbeing. The solutions generally rely on enabling consumers to be well-informed about their wellbeing, change their behaviour and use digital unobtrusive instrumentation to monitor and improve their quality of life, saving on high healthcare costs later in life.

For more information, visit the official website of EIT Digital Accelerator.

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