@Point of Care Ad-Embedded
@SK with Watson tool

For the tenth year, Med Ad News has chosen new Pharmaceutical Marketing Ventures to Watch that could change the way pharmaceutical products are marketed and sold.

12/20/17 | Joshua Slatko | [email protected]

Point of Care is bringing static digital ads to life by adding its ad-tech tool SK with Watson. Built with artificial intelligence, cognitive, and machine learning technology, the tool ingests the product data/content and supports medical professionals seeking information by providing real-time, succinct answers to questions. Its innovative functionality, company executives say, offers healthcare marketers unsurpassed levels of granular insight via analytics on their customers.

The Point of Care team has been through several businesses over the course of 30 years, each one building to some degree on the previous ventures. All the businesses were in the medical information and data space, from educating doctors to formulary insights to medical news. “The most recent business, which was sold to Everyday Health, was MedPage Today – breaking medical news written on the clinician level,” says Robert Stern, Point of Care’s CEO. “This business taught us a great deal about gathering just-in-time information and turning this information around in minutes. I.e., how to gather and parse data in real-time and offer new metrics not seen before in the industry.”

So what was next? During the course of their work on MedPage Today, the team discovered that there was no resource for clinicians that could give them immediate, short, targeted answers to their point-of-care questions in the exam room without having to go through mounds of information and self-curate an answer. “In a 10-to-15 minute patient visit, that was not going to work,” Stern says. “So, we took our knowledge from MedPage Today on how to gather and update clinically relevant evidence based information on the fly and present it in a crisp pointed answer useful to the clinician while the patient was in the room, a virtual consult.”

As luck would have it, IBM introduced the Watson AI/Cognitive machine learning tool and was looking for medical applications just as the Point of Care team was looking for an AI tool. “As we were looking to leverage our expertise to build a next generation healthcare AI platform with IBM Watson’s natural language expertise and cognitive services, we came to the partnership with deep level content and knowledge services,” Stern says. “To make a long story short, we entered into a partnership which is now more than four years old.”

In the meantime, Point of Care’s in-house development team has built on and added its own proprietary cognitive models and tools to work with the Watson product, adding more depth and specific medical technology AI/and machine learning that leaders say make the combined tools best in class for clinical decision support. “There are several large players in the field – Elsevier, DynaMed, UpToDate, Epocrates, Medscape – but none with the game changing tech we have built,” Stern says.

So Point of Care was able to bring all this intelligence, artificial and otherwise, to bear with its Cognitive Decision Support platform, offering physicians a way to access relevant content quickly at the point of care. But the next innovation – the one that earned Point of Care this profile – went a step further.

“So, once we built the clinical decision-making tool and could leverage our skills and experience in developing an expertly trained cognitive data model, our CTO David Setiadi, Ph.D., and our commercial sales lead, Margo Ullmann, said, ‘Why can’t we lift the AI/Cognitive machine learning component and make it available as a standalone to supplement ads and make them come alive in real time, ads that can answer questions posed by clinicians or patients in real time?’” Stern told Med Ad News. “So, we mocked up a few demos, developed our SK with Watson Chat Bot, and left pitch rooms fascinated and buzzing with ideas being tossed around about, how do we get this idea executed as soon as possible.”

The SK Chat Bot is only about two months old and is already creating plenty of buzz. “As far as ad agencies and their clients go, this is a perfect, controllable product,” Stern says. “They provide the approved content, resources, and answers and we train the SK Chat Bot to respond with those specifics or refer their question(s) to appropriate channels. So, no surprises because it’s a controlled media offering that legal and regulatory can guide.”

How does it work? Agencies develop and supply the creative and media buys, which they execute. Then, Point of Care takes their creative and approved product information and pulls it into the SK AI/Cognitive environment, and prepares the Q&A portion to be inserted as per the agency creative and size needs. “We can also change programming on-demand, so as labeling or other info changes we can make behind the scenes additions without taking down the advertisement,” Stern says.

Although the ASK Chat Bot itself is relatively new, the clinical decision support tool from which it emerged is very much not; according to Point of Care executives, it’s been used by more than 200,000 clinicians in 29 disease categories. So there’s plenty of data support – and evidence-based linkage to changes in prescriber behavior – behind the curtain.

“Our real value on the backend is insight,” Stern says. “What we can analyze on a de-identified aggregated basis is what is the clinician is looking at in terms of answers to their questions during the patient encounter that changes their prescribing or treatment or continuation with current treatment. No one else can do that.”

And of course, it’s all highly targetable. “sk with Watson, and the SK Chat Bot, are totally targetable, and the answers are different for patients than clinicians.” Stern says. “You can slice and dice messaging to any segment of audience that fits the client criteria.”

What’s next for the SK Chat Bot? Pretty much any space where medical knowledge is needed. “Chat Bot for sales reps and MSLs, hospitals, physician offices … making journal articles come alive … adding to digital screens in hospital rooms to answer specific patient questions, patient support screens in waiting rooms, and disease-specific patient apps,” Stern told Med Ad News. “Plus, news articles that can go further by offering chat bot to talk to experts, medical sites for doctors offering author chats, and voice chats with various speaker products available and so on.”

The company will also be looking at predictive analytics with prepopulated patient info, with a target of the second half of 2018. After that the real long-term home run, Stern suggests, will be patients interacting with their own doctors to monitor and handle patient questions, including patient record data matched to the physician’s protocols to isolate next steps and treatment options. “Can I take Tylenol with this drug, should I come in, and Watson triages the appointment,” he says. “In the appointment calendar, the doctor gets all the latest info and insights they need before the patient comes in the office.”

What’s important, Stern notes, is that none of these tools are intended to replace clinicians; they are intended to maximize the value of the patient/physician interaction. “This is about providing information in seconds that a person would need years to parse through and giving the clinician a tool to make it relevant to each patient differently depending on history, comorbidities, and challenges,” he says.