Advances in healthcare technology continue to expand access to quality medical care. Agora recently hosted a webinar series exploring the impacts of advancements in AI and AR/VR in healthcare. The two sessions featured a panel of industry experts and thought leaders, including:
- Gil Margolin, CTO at Talkspace
- Pearly Chan, VP at HTC VIVE
- Chris Mathew, CGO at Sniffle
- Chris Olsen, Strategic Advisor at Canary Speech
- Daniel Andrew, Co-founder at PsyTech VR
- Christopher Bricker, CEO at Mynd Immersive
This article provides an overview of the discussion points from the webinar. You can watch the full recording here: AI and AR/VR in Telehealth
Improving access to mental health care
90% of Americans believe that there is a mental health crisis in the US today and nearly 1 in 5 US adults have been diagnosed with depression. AI and telehealth technology can help increase the speed of diagnosis and risk assessment while helping therapists improve bonds with patients.
Gil Margolin, CTO at Talkspace discussed how mobile therapy sessions break all the barriers associated with mental health, including accessibility, affordability, and stigma. The involvement of AI and real-time engagement tech in these therapy sessions keeps the human connection at the core without missing the authenticity and interactivity of in-person sessions.
“AI tools are used to predict potential ruptures in the therapist-patient bond, assess suicide risks, and identify comorbidities that may go unnoticed. This integration of AI with human therapists creates a hybrid solution that delivers high-quality care at scale.”
-Gil Margolin, CTO,Talkspace
Chris Olsen, Strategic Advisor at Canary Speech talked about how AI algorithms can study the acoustics of a person’s speech and analyze the pattern against large language models to help therapists understand things like levels of depression or anxiety in a matter of 20 seconds.
“The idea is that within your speech there is the inflection that you have and the acoustics that come along with it and if you [analyze] it with large language models you can find patterns within it to let you know what’s going on.”
– Chris Olsen, Strategic Advisor, Canary Speech
These “AI-powered biomarkers” are quick and lightweight processes that help therapists act quickly and align their diagnosis and treatment approach with a cost-effective strategy.
Immersive VR tech for elder care
Christopher Brickler, CEO at Mynd Immersive brought up the fact that in the US, there will be more people who are above 65 years old than under 18 just 9 years from now. The population of older adults need better healthcare infrastructure that can deliver quality healthcare at scale.
“I firmly believe that digital therapeutics will be a very persuasive way to provide cognitive, physical, and occupational therapies for older adults who are in physical rehabilitation and are getting back to normalcy. There are a ton of things that we can do in VR on a remote level to help with that process”
-Christopher Brickler, CEO, Mynd Immersive
Medical care integrated with AR, VR, and XR tech enables digital treatments for far more people than caregivers could service in their physical proximity. Many studies, including one from Dr. Jeremy Bailenson at Stanford, indicate that immersive tech helped boost overall patient outcomes and establish a positive caregiver relationship with older adults.
Mobile-first healthcare powered by AI
While most other industries today have moved to a mobile-first world, the traditional healthcare industry is still catching up. AI integration with daily hospital operations can help clear the field for a mobile-first healthcare delivery system. The AI-powered automation frees physicians and healthcare administrators from repetitive operational burdens. Sniffle is a company aiming to bring the full suite of healthcare services to a mobile-first environment with the help of AI.
“Our AI-derived diagnosis is based on 14 million patient encounters. When you put in your family medical history, your lifestyle, and then your chief complaint or your first symptom, Al leads you through a medical interview. At that point, the returning set of differentials or diagnoses has a 95% accuracy rating,” says Chris Mathew, CGO at Sniffle.
AI advancements help the diagnostic process, leveraging the vast medical data available. Using AI-derived diagnosis saves valuable time in time-sensitive cases. Physicians and surgeons can quickly evaluate patients’ health needs and take the best action. These advancements also help patients to be more proactive in their self-care.
Treating cognitive conditions with AR and VR
With the available clinical data as of 2023, medical experts believe that AR and VR can significantly enhance the care for cognitive impairment conditions, including dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and anxiety management.
The immersive reality powered by VR and real-time engagement tech can work like a portal for patients to undergo different therapies, training, and rehab sessions in a safe and closed environment. Pearly Chen, VP at HTC VIVE believes that “VR and AR can deliver better physical and mental health therapies, explore social connections, and even treat more serious conditions like PTSD.”
Daniel, co-founder at PsyTech VR, says, “The VR therapy system is used to treat various anxiety disorders, fears related to environments, and post-traumatic stress disorders. The system is delivered to [providers] who employ various relaxation techniques like mindfulness, art therapy, and trial therapy to make the patient understand or experience the procedure/treatment first-hand.”
The impact of VR/AR and AI in healthcare promises accessibility, accuracy, and fastened healthcare delivery. Investing in VR/AR and AI applications can benefit doctors and patients immensely, leading to better patient outcomes.
Watch the AI and AR/VR in Telehealth webinar on demand for more insights.