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by Anne Stake and Kayla Huemer

How Medtronic Labs is Cutting Through the Hype and Applying AI for Better Health Outcomes Right Now

In the current flurry of AI hype and predictions of doom, it’s easy to get lost in the chatter rather than actioning efforts for this technology to have a real-world impact on people’s lives. Medtronic LABS is cutting through the hype by working directly with health systems and governments in Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Rwanda, and the US to apply cutting-edge technology to measurably improve health outcomes for the world’s most underserved communities.

At Medtronic LABS, our teams are learning from the health data we collect by leveraging AI in practical and effective ways to improve our SPICE platform and community-based programs. And through partnerships with the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation and Causal Foundry, we continue to improve our AI acumen.

Here are just a few examples of how Medtronic LABS is using AI to make a difference right now:

We’re reducing user churn

Losing SPICE platform users due to frustration or confusion can significantly impact program success. Through our partnership with Causal Foundry, Medtronic LABS plans to capture real-time user interactions to flag a user who is likely to churn. Using survival analysis, Medtronic LABS can anticipate which users are most likely to churn and operationalize interventions such as refresher trainings or user experience A/B testing to improve the user experience.

We’re targeting follow-up

Through our participation in the Patrick J. McGovern Data to Safeguard Human Rights Accelerator, Medtronic LABS is using AI to target patient outreach after community health workers screen patients in the community. Using a naive Bayesian Belief or neural network, Medtronic LABS is building a model to anticipate a patient’s likelihood to enroll in our programs based on screening data, patient details, screening and site locations, patient landmark locations, and other facility characteristics.

We’re increasing patient retention

Medtronic LABS uses AI to anticipate which patients are most at risk of defaulting from our programs. Using patient demographic and location details as well as past engagement with the program, we’re working to predict a patient’s likelihood to attend their next touchpoint with the health system in order to support community health decision-making and follow-up activities to improve patient outcomes.

We’re optimizing telehealth

Health systems are leveraging SPICE Engage, our telehealth platform, to call patients. The success rate and impact of those calls could be improved by supporting the decision of who to call and when. By utilizing a neural net for individual optimal timing prediction and restless bandits to optimize the impact of the calls, Medtronic LABS is helping health facilities improve their efficiency and effectiveness.

We’re improving community health resource allocation

Once Medtronic LABS can anticipate which patients are likely to struggle at any given step of managing their condition, we will work to recommend how and when to allocate resources to improve patient engagement and adherence to treatment plans. We’re also layering on additional data sets from Google and partner governments to target interventions where they’re needed most. Medtronic LABS continues to experiment and learn about how to optimize resource allocation to improve population health. 

As the hype around AI in healthcare continues to grow, practical applications are the key to success. By leveraging AI, Medtronic LABS is working to anticipate and address challenges before they become significant issues and improve the experience for our SPICE platform users and the patients we serve. Ultimately, anticipation and prediction empower us at LABS to make proactive decisions, focusing on prevention rather than reaction. For Medtronic LABS, the real impact of this technology will be measured in lives saved and improved, not in “likes” or advertising dollars earned. 

To learn more about how we’re harnessing the power of AI to spur measurable, systems-level change in global health, please visit our contact page. Together, we can ensure AI helps us transform health systems and delivers essential care to communities, families, and individuals in need. 

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