Health systems are under extreme pressure right now as they juggle the challenges of rising supply costs, a sweeping workforce shortage and a major burnout crisis among the staff they do have. The heavy burden is prompting hospitals to look for technology that can save their staff time and reduce costs.
Ada Health sells technology that promises to do just that. The Berlin-based company’s AI-powered symptom assessment and care navigation tools aims to help health systems achieve a robust digital front door, which means staff members don’t have to spend as much time triaging patients or helping them navigate the process of finding care. On Thursday, Ada announced that Jefferson Health is deploying its technology across its entire enterprise as part of a digital front door initiative.
Jefferson is Greater Philadelphia’s largest health system. It has 18 hospitals and more than 50 outpatient facilities across Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
By deploying Ada’s technology, Jefferson is offering its patients convenience by allowing them to self-triage their medical concerns. Patients can access Ada’s chat services through Jefferson’s website and patient portal, and they can ask questions to figure out whether they need to seek care or if they can manage their condition at home.
“For health systems, it reduces unnecessary consultation. It avoids people going unnecessarily to the emergency room or accessing the wrong kind of care services,” said Claire Novorol, Ada’s co-founder and chief medical officer, in an interview on Friday.
Ada’s chat service also makes it easy for patients to access care should it determine that their condition isn’t manageable from home. It can help patients schedule an in-person appointment, direct them to a telehealth consultation or connect them to a physician online chat, depending on what options the health system has available, Novorol pointed out.
In these cases, Ada collects the patient’s intake information and integrates it into the electronic health record so that clinicians already have it when the patient is ready to be seen. This helps reduce administrative burden, Novorol explained.
“A big part of what we’re doing is reducing unnecessary interactions and freeing up the time of doctors and nurses so they can spend it with the patients that really need to access them. It’s so they can spend their time where it’s most valuable and most needed,” she said.
Ada’s chat service is used by “several large health systems” in the U.S., including Sutter Health, Novorol declared.
“For health systems, we are integrated into their digital front door, and very often they roll out Ada as part of a digital front door initiative. They’re looking to really increase digital access to care and streamline those journeys for patients, as well as automate some of the more routine aspects of getting into care and navigating to it,” she explained.
The technology was built and trained by a team of about 50 in-house physicians, Novorol said. She said that “it’s basically a probabilistic reasoning engine, combined with a huge corpus of medical knowledge.” This means that Ada’s technology uses data and physician knowledge to ask patients appropriate follow-up questions and decide on best course of action for each patient.
Ada’s AI is trained on the latest medical literature and patient data, as well as data on best practices and protocols that is curated by physicians, Novorol said. Ada releases updates for its technology every two weeks, and the company runs thousands of tests on its product before these updates are released, she added.
But Ada isn’t the only company selling symptom assessment and care navigation technology — there’s also companies like HealthTap, MedWhat and Babylon Health. Novorol thinks that Ada differentiates itself through its focus on clinical accuracy and safety.
“We’ve published a number of studies demonstrating the safety and accuracy of our system. We have very rigorous post-market surveillance as well — you have to continuously monitor safety and performance out in the real world. And you have to notify authorities if there are any adverse events or if anything happens that shows that the system isn’t working as well as expected, and then you have to show how you’re going to fix that,” she said.
Novorol added that Ada’s technology is categorized as medical device in Europe, and most other symptom assessment tools have not met the accuracy standards needed for this designation.
Photo credit: Ada Health