Empowering Community Health Workers through Artificial Intelligence
The world is facing a severe global health challenge – Over 4 billion people lack access to basic health care services, leaving millions of people without the care that they need and deserve. This alarming situation is mainly attributed to major financial and geographical barriers. In developing countries, three out of four people live in rural areas (The World Bank, 2017), but healthcare resources are mostly concentrated in urban areas, resulting in limited access to appropriate care. The demand for affordable, effective and quality health services is high, but cannot be met by the traditional, costly model of delivering healthcare solely through doctors and nurses, which are most often not accessible in rural settings. The massive shortage of more than 7 million health workers, urges us to think about new solutions that can be deployed quicker -. Rising smartphone penetration in LMIC, provides the unique opportunity for mobile AI health applications to facilitate new access to healthcare for vulnerable communities and fundamentally transform health care delivery.
At the Ada Foundation, it is our mission to overcome these challenges and bring life-saving, high quality care and decision support to millions. We can achieve this by empowering community health workers and local drug shop dispensaries with Artificial Intelligence e (AI) via mobile technology. The Ada Foundation was founded by Ada Health in 2018 and is committed to putting Ada’s ground-breaking technology into the hands of thousands of community health workers all over the world, to enable better informed decisions, support diagnosis and improve appropriate care navigation of patients.
Launched in 2016, Ada helps individuals to understand and manage their health through a personalized health assessment, while providing earlier health information and decision support to doctors. With an approachable, user-friendly interface, anyone can enter their presenting complaints. With the warm, friendly tone of a doctor, Ada guides users through a series of questions related to their symptoms and provides them with a list of conditions that they are most likely to have. Ada has more than 3.5 million users globally, who completed over 5 million assessments. Ada offers a secure platform for collecting patient data and providing guidance on possible conditions and next steps.
Our sophisticated medical reasoning engine was designed over the past seven years by a team of over 100 doctors, data scientists and engineers to solve the puzzle of diagnosis once and for all. With over 12,000 diseases, an infinite number of potential symptom constellations, it is simply impossible for a human to be able to identify all of these possible combinations. Through the use of AI, Ada solves this issue within minutes and supports decision making in currently over 5 languages.
By partnering with relevant health worker organizations in LMIC, we strive to create an adapted version of Ada for community health workers and drug shop dispensaries to improve decision-making, as well as introduce an effective referral system across stakeholders within primary healthcare, benefitting millions of people, especially women and children by 2020.
Watch our elevator pitch:
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:Berlin, Germany
The dimensions of the Challenge our solution addresses:
What makes our solution innovative:
Our solution has been rolled out over the last 18 months and is grounded in six years of R&D. Ada uses a probabilistic reasoning engine, combined with a deep medical knowledge base covering thousands of conditions, symptoms and findings. Ada takes all of the patient’s information into consideration and has been validated by GPs and university clinics. Via learning-mechanisms, Ada is continuously improving. We will create a specialized version of Ada for CHWs, by setting up a toolbox, which includes lab tests to expand diagnostic capabilities, and to integrate the respective treatment recommendation to enable prompt and quality care.
How technology is integral to our solution:
At Ada Health, our team of 100 doctors, scientists and engineers spent seven years perfecting our AI technology and probabilistic reasoning, combining this with a world-class knowledge base of medical cases to deliver the most sophisticated health assessments on the market.
- Self-Management and Care: Our AI-powered chatbot offers instant access to credible health information and guidance on what to do next.
- Decision-Support and Triage: Our technology supports health workers to assess health and make decisions.
- Population Health: Our technology allows to analyse large volumes of data to identify and flag community health trends (e.g. Outbreak control)
Our solution goals over the next 12 months:
Over the next 12 months we seek to partner with leading NGOs that work with community health workers to build an adapted version of Ada, which will be tested and deployed at the field. Our key objective will be to achieve proof of concept among CHWs and drug shop dispensaries for our solution. This entails testing, deploying and validating our solution together with strong partners on the ground. Our focus will be on Sub-saharan Africa.
Our vision over the next three to five years to grow and scale our solution to affect the lives of more people:
We want to make it easy for anyone, anywhere to access trusted medical expertise and high-quality care, tailored to their individual needs. Our vision is to empower patients and frontline health workers to take better informed health decisions and to enable access to appropriate and timely care in LMIC. Over the next 3-5 years we seek to reach over 20 M people, directly as Ada users as well as indirectly through frontline health workers. In addition, we aim to impact lives positively, through the use of patient analytics and aggregated, real-time populations insights, which allow for effective outbreak control.
Our promotional video:
The key characteristics of the populations who will benefit from our solution in the next 12 months:
The regions where we will be operating in the next 12 months:
How we will reach and retain our customers or beneficiaries:
We aim to start in Tanzania by conducting feasibility studies among CHWs and drug shop dispensaries. To achieve this objective we partner up with relevant, local NGOs and foundations in the field, in order to implement our solution on the ground. Through these partnerships, we will be able to make our solution available to CHWs and drug shop dispensaries, who are key to serve our beneficiaries (general population, especially mothers and children).
How many people we are currently serving with our solution:
Ada was well accepted among people all over the world, proven by the large number of sign ups and high rate of satisfied user reviews (#1 best medical app in over 100 countries). More than 3.5 M people worldwide have completed over 5 M assessments. Half of these people are based in low and middle-income countries. The Ada Chatbot helps people to assess their symptoms and guides them on the relevant next steps to manage their health. 71 % of users confirmed that Ada has helped them.
How many people we will be serving with our solution in the 12 months and the next 3 years:
Within the next 12 months, we seek to test a specialized version of the Ada Chatbot among a small amount CHWs, drugshop dispensaries and health facilities. We start with roughly 100.000 people to be served by the above-mentioned stakeholders. We will have gained first insights and set up an infrastructure, which will allow us to modify and further adapt the Ada to improve decision making and referrals. In three years we will have validated the model and rolled out the specialized version to thousands of CHWs and drugshop dispensaries, serving a large amount of people in East Africa.
How our solution team is organized:Non-Profit
How many people work on our solution team:20+
How many years we have been working on our solution:5-10 years
The skills our solution team has that will enable us to attract the different resources needed to succeed and make an impact:
Hila Azadzoy - Managing Director, Ada Foundation: Experienced Social Entrepreneur with a proven track record of leading an international, award-winning social enterprise, building strong partnerships with NGOs, foundations and government.
Dr. Martin Hirsch: Co-founder & Chief Scientific Officer, Ada Health:
Martin has a PhD in Neuroscience and a Diploma in Physiology. A medical researcher turned serial entrepreneur, Martin shifted from theory to innovation after publishing his work on nerve modelling in scientific journal Nature. He spent seven years developing the first version of Ada for doctors and continues to shape the way Ada learns today.
Our revenue model:
We start capacity building by raising funds for the adaptation and testing of our product in different local settings from foundations, international organizations and governmental agencies. In the long-term, we seek to enter partnerships with relevant stakeholders, such as local government, to generate revenue, which will allow us to further scale our solution to more beneficiaries free of charge. By upskilling frontline health workers through the use of AI and mobile technology, local governments are incentivised to start employing Community Health Workers, who are often providing their services unpaid.
Why we are applying to Solve:
We believe in the power of our technology to create long-lasting impact. Establishing partnerships and developing a network of strong supporters is crucial to achieving our mission. Becoming an MIT Solver would tremendously advance our work, allowing us to connect with relevant organizations in global health. In addition, mentoring and guidance by the respective experts within the MIT Solve network, would be also of great support, since we are newly taking up our operations with the Ada Foundation. Through MIT Solve we could increase our visibility and raise more awareness for our work within a broader audience.
The key barriers for our solution:
Access to partners: Our solution to build and test a specialized version of Ada for CHWs and drug dispensaries will only succeed by forming relevant partnerships with NGOs and foundations, in order to start implementation. MIT Solve would be of great support to connect us with the Solve Community, so we can explore further collaboration opportunities.
The types of connections and partnerships we would be most interested in if we became Solvers:
- Hila Azadzoy Managing Director, Ada Health