San Jose, CA — A few weeks back, the digital healthcare company Optra Health announced the launch of OptraGURU, its newest platform that leverages the AI tech of its iPhronesis offering with Amazon Alexa’s natural language skills. What does that nearly run-on sentence really mean? This news marks a mash-up of 3 of our 2018 Trends and points to a revolution in the way everyday people understand and engage with their genetic information.

Our 3 trends converging here are:

Spit Stories (from Consumer Trends)

More accessible, affordable home test kits are driving a fast-growing number of people to trade a little saliva for a lot of knowledge.

Our heritage and health futures are only a spit away. Discreet home testing now provides consumers with tools to dive as deep into their results as they wish -- exploring their backgrounds, tracing their ancestors and even getting insight into their likelihood for future diagnoses. 

Let’s Chat (from Digital Trends)

2017’s quick leap into voice navigation and chatbot-ing has set a new expectation that engagements with brands should be friendly, conversational, and often UI free.

The way we interact with content changed dramatically in 2017. Alexa and Google Home took voice navigation mainstream. Retailers around the world dove into AI-powered chat platforms. Everyone seemed to agree: It was a great year to start talking. In 2018, talk first will become the expectation. 

Artificial Intelligence + Real Patients (from Digital Trends)

What’s wrong? In 2018, only the bots can tell you. Increasingly, the first interaction people will have with the healthcare system will be an AI diagnostic that routes them to just the right care.

Investors and healthcare professionals alike are incredibly bullish about the potential of artificial intelligence for triaging and even diagnosing health challenges. But to date, this is a conversation without a very critical voice— the patients’.

So how is Optra Health mixing-and-matching these three trends to perfection? In a nutshell, the new platform helps patients digest complicated genetic testing results by translating everything into conversational patient-friendly explanations. Once OptraGURU has been loaded onto an Echo or the like, users can simply ask Alexa to access their report and hear a summary in understandable language. They can even ask specific questions about their results to receive answers in real time and other personalized insights.

CEO and cofounder Gauri Naik recently stated, “The convergence of artificial intelligence, conversational technologies like Alexa, and an ever-increasing availability of data is having a transformative effect on how research and clinical results are delivered and communicated…The possibilities of using OptraGURU and AI platforms like iPhronesis, in combination with extensive public and private data sets, will advance research and improve the consumer experience.”

OptraGURU is clearly staged to bring value to patients, but physicians and genetic counselors stand to benefit as well. In light of research that suggests PCPs may not be adequately equipped to explain and leverage patients’ genetic information, the former may appreciate the translation and simplification it offer. The latter can use the platform to keep up with the latest genetic research as well as compare multiple reports at once to better understand data sourced from across a family.

Why This Matters—

While individual trends offer useful insight on their own, their greatest value often emerges when we see the complex interactivity as they intersect one another. Today technology, science and human insights are developing faster and faster every day—we are witnessing a super-convergence in healthcare, and thus should expect to see countless more examples like this in the coming year. The best will raise the bar for patients, HCPs and all of us.



Annals of Internal Medicine

About the Author:

Drew Beck has spent his entire career in healthcare — from direct patient care as an EMT in college to countless roles in pharma sales and global marketing for leading life science companies including Eli Lilly & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline. He is currently a leader on the Syneos Health Insights & Innovation team, a group charged with leveraging deep expertise in virtual collaboration, behavioral science, trends-based-innovation, custom research and global marketing insights.