Dorks Estate: Augmented reality technology makes automated medical visits possible for students

AdviNOW plans to lower healthcare cost through self-guided medical stations


Podcast reporter Diana Dudurkaewa sits down with CEO of AdviNOW Medical, James Bates, to talk about the self-guided medical stations being implemented at ASU. The two converse about AdviNOW's goals, partnerships and the medical station's impact. They also discuss Bates' story behind the stations, and provides details on how to become part of AdviNOW's work. 


Diana Dudurkaewa: Were you ever just too lazy, sick or just didn’t have the time to go drive yourself to a doctor’s appointment? Well AdviNOW Medical has created self-guided medical stations so you won’t have to. With the help of our own ASU engineering students this all became possible for AdviNOW to create. 

James Bates: My name is James Bates. I am the founder and CEO of AdviNOW Medical.

Diana Dudurkaewa: Now you might be asking what are the self-guided medical stations and what is AdviNOW’s goal with creating them? 

James Bates: Our goal is to completely automate the medical visit. The self-guided medical station really starts out on your phone. You would register your entry and all of your patient history. You're going to enter your chief complaint you're going to pay your bill, everything basically on your phone or on a tablet, if you walk in and you'll go through and it will ask you all of the questions a doctor would normally ask you. Then, you will be guided into an exam room where there is an automated medical station that uses augmented reality and I know augmented reality is kind of hard to imagine without seeing it. A patient looks at a screen on the screen we overlay exactly what they must do on them. It's kind of like Snapchat filters where you turn your head and you have something stuck on you. Well, that's what it is except you know exactly where to put the stethoscope, you know exactly how to guide an ear exam, you know exactly how to do a mouth exam. Now, the patient knows exactly how to take those medical measurements. 

So with that, the patient can basically go in answer all the questions do all the medical examinations and we send a report to a doctor a real life doctor that basically is a breakdown of all of the potential illnesses with all of the information that the patient put in the system. The doctor can then have a video call with the patient or see the patient in person, depending on the type of clinic it is. You're now in and out of the doctor in less than 15 minutes from start to finish. And so this provides near zero wait time to be able to be we have all of your medical issues resolved. That's what the station is all about. 

Diana Dudurkaewa: James Bates had decided to retire, but during his time he came up with these self-guided medical stations. Here’s his quick story of how these medical stations came to be. 

James Bates: Well I had a good acquaintance of mine come up and suggest that I invest in a chain of urgent care centers here in Phoenix. Well I don't know anything about urgent care at the time, this was three years ago, and so I asked him I said "Okay, well can I you know get a hold of the finances, let me understand let me understand the operations, the workflow and I'll do some homework and decide whether I want to invest." Well I quickly came to the conclusion that running an urgent care is not a very good business in Phoenix today. You actually need to see a large number of patients and the wait time that happens when you see those large number of patients means that patients aren't satisfied. Ultimately, for you to make money in an urgent care you're guaranteed bad customer service. That's not sustainable. The insurance companies pay less and less money every year for patients to go to the urgent care. The costs to run an urgent care go up every year. As such, the business model was fundamentally broken. 

I looked at it and I thought "What if you take all of the technologies that go into a self-driving vehicle and you bring them inside the clinic? What does the business look like then?" It fundamentally changes the cost structure. Then you can create a clinic which is fully automated that costs a low enough amount such that you can actually see patients and make money at the same time. That was the genesis of the automated medical visit -- our physician assistant which we call Hannah. 

Diana Dudurkaewa: Since we now have a clearer understanding of these medical stations, let us see how they will benefit ASU students. 

James Bates: We've been very tied with the university from the very beginning. A lot of my leadership team comes from the university and from that standpoint we are integrated. When you look at it from a health care perspective for students so not just "Hey AdviNOW uses students," but what does it do for the university in providing health for students? The burden on the university to provide health care is rather big. ASU is partnering with AdviNOW medical to be able to deliver those solutions on campus and be able to provide students with access to care 24/7 where it's convenient for them. These medical stations originally will be put inside the ASU health center but ultimately the idea is to put them anywhere where students need the care. Maybe you'll have one in a dorm or maybe it'll be at a sports facility maybe in the football stadium or places like that. From that standpoint, the population health of ASU will be dramatically improved by having that increased access where students can get treated and immediately when they have a concern, before they end up at the emergency room. 

Diana Dudurkaewa: James Bates mentions a partnership with ASU. So what other partnerships does AdviNOW have? 

James Bates: We have a partnership with Safeway and today we're open in six locations and we have six more that are actually opening up next week. So, we'll have a total of 12 stations open by the end of next week in Safeway's throughout Arizona. By May, we will have 50 locations opened throughout the state of Arizona. We have a partnership with a company called Akos. Akos M.D. is a telemedicine company and we use their network inside of the Safeway's, so they're the doctors that the people inside Safeway will see. 

Diana Dudurkaewa: AdviNOW has accepted multiple undergraduate and post-graduate ASU students to be part of their work. But why exactly ASU? 

James Bates: ASU has a tremendous focus on engineering. They have one of the largest engineering number of student’s population in the nation, actually. And when you start looking at where at the learning and capability that those students end up with it fits the fundamentals of what we're trying to do rather well. Artificial intelligence, image recognition, key decision support, computer science, data science all of those type of disciplines. Students end up knowing the fundamentals which is which allows them to come up to speed with what we're trying to do which is bleeding edge, rather quickly. 

Diana Dudurkaewa: For those of you interested in a possible internship with AdviNOW Medical. Here is an idea of what AdviNOW Medical is looking for. 

James Bates: We are looking for students who understand fundamentals in universities, they understand the why, and it's really important because when you are inventing new technologies. You are using science in a way that no one has thought about so if you're just memorizing the processes of the scientific technique and you don't understand the why of the scientific technique then you're less valuable to a startup that's really out to change the world and that's what we're doing. We're out to fundamentally change health care, solve the health care crisis in the United States and the world.

Diana Dudurkaewa: One might think that these medical stations don’t need additional advancements but Bates has more in mind. 

James Bates: You can think of certain things to add, something like an ultrasound would be great to add, any medical device that is not dangerous. We want people to be able to use it on themselves or with a very simple assistant who's not medically trained. This is the way we democratize healthcare. 

Diana Dudurkaewa: Here we will conclude with what major picture AdviNOW Medical has for the future of our healthcare. 

James Bates: You have an opportunity to reduce the cost of health care to the point that it's not a burden on the government, it's not a burden on companies and it's not a burden on families. When you look at the crises throughout the world today, I don't think you could ever read a newspaper without reading about the health care crisis. Why? Because it's a third of our economy. I have health insurance. I get charged fifteen hundred bucks a month, for my family. Now, I can pay that but how many families can't afford to pay fifteen thousand dollars a year twenty thousand dollars a year for health insurance? There's a lot. So from that standpoint, we have to do something. It is a crisis and technology is the only way to do that and we get to use really cool technology. 

Diana Dudurkaewa: For the State Press, I’m Diana Dudurkaewa 


Reach the reporter at ddudurka@asu.edu and on Twitter @DianaPress55.

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