Users of Mabu, a robot made especially to help people with congestive heart failure, said they’re 84% more likely to keep track of the signs and symptoms of their disease. That’s according to its initial 40 users.
Mabu was first made available for patients in 2018. Its early users are Kaiser Permanente patients, Catalia Health CEO Cory Kidd told VentureBeat in a phone interview.
In addition to Mabu, robots that help oncology and immunology patients were introduced in recent weeks, Kidd said. The company is also developing robots meant to replace routine calls from health professionals to determine how patients feel about a new specialized medication.
Mabu uses conversational AI to speak with patients about key questions a doctor may have about newly diagnosed heart failure patients, such as fluid retention around the heart and the lungs, weight increase, and shortness of breath in certain situations. Anomalous responses that signal a patient may be in danger are then brought to the attention of a doctor or health professional.
Mabu can also serve up educational content. Support for American Heart Association content was introduced last fall.
The robot assistant can also do things like carry out small talk about the weather and tailor treatment plans based on the responses and self-reported preferences of each patient. Half of the initial Mabu users also said it helps them feel less overwhelmed by the number of tasks they’re asked to track after being diagnosed with congestive heart failure.
“These are patients who suddenly have this major change in their lives, this disease that they know they have now, [and are] typically on at least five new drugs and have to monitor their diet,” Kidd said.
Up next for Mabu are new features based on initial user feedback, new health care insurance partners, and the potential incorporation of facial recognition software that will let Mabu speak up when it recognizes the face of a patient it is assigned to help. Google’s latest smart display, the Nest Hub Max due out this summer, uses facial recognition to personalize results on-screen based on the person standing in front of the device.
“We’re talking about chronic diseases that people are going to be dealing with for years or decades, and so finding solutions that really help over an extended period of time is the entire focus of what we’re doing,” Kidd said.
The news about Mabu comes days after reports emerged that internet service provider Comcast is making an ambient listening device for tracking human health. Amazon is also reportedly making a wearable device that can track human emotion through the sound of a person’s voice.
Robots like Moxi from Diligent Robotics are also being tested now in Texas hospitals as a way to augment nurses and help reduce burnout.