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Dermatologist in the Loop

Dermatologist in the Loop

As a healthcare startup we are many times posed the question, “What do you do”? The one line answer is “We are Dermatologist in the Loop”. For those well versed with Artificial Intelligence and Human in the loop (HITL) this sentence says a lot. For the rest of us, I will start from the beginning.

How it all began?

Artificial intelligence has been around for many decades but mostly in the realms of the technologists. It has been a few years or so that AI has gained so much attention. For many AI stands for robots. Robots in the minds of human beings represent someone who is closest to a human but without the heart of a human so a heartless human you may say. This heartless human works for the most powerful to make them more powerful at the expense of the common man. As depicted in movies Robots decimate humans and rule the planet. Most of us or at least many of us laughed at this fear mongering. In the last couple of years there has been a lot of noise around AI stealing jobs which ties into the image of the heartless human.

Where we are today?

Artificial Intelligence is out of the labs and in our hands. It is all pervasive and whether we know it or not we use it many times every day. We use it when we use Google maps or Netflix or Google. Google maps uses AI to find the shortest route to your destination with the least traffic or whatever parameter you set such as avoiding toll roads. Netflix uses AI to suggest movies and shows for you to watch. The suggestions are intelligent based on many factors that AI considers. Google search uses AI to come up with the best search results. NEST uses AI to determine how hot or cold your home should be. What about Robots? Well AI has made robots very intelligent too. There are robots being used in manufacturing, warehousing, wars and other places. Robots are used in nuclear plants where it is too dangerous for humans to work. Robots are used in the battlefield for dangerous operations such as detecting mines. But what about the much publicized and feared phenomena of AI taking away human jobs? There have been predictions of millions of truck drivers and cab drivers losing their jobs because of self-driving vehicles, probably the most famous product of AI. Well as of now most of the companies working on self-driving vehicles have achieved human assisted driving which brings us to Human in the Loop.

What is Human in the Loop?

Human in the Loop is a model where a human being is involved with a machine. So instead of man versus machine we have man assisted by a machine. Coming back to our example of self-driving cars, we have a car doing most of the driving but a human driver coming in the picture when needed say for example navigating a dirt road. A remotely manned drone which does most of the flying by itself but can be piloted remotely by a human pilot when needed. There is a startup which provides smart connected glasses to blind people. The smart glasses use AI to help blind people and connect to a remote agent only when needed. All this while the data gets fed back to the AI making it better and smarter.

In all these examples AI is far from being the feared heartless human. Instead AI is this benevolent angel at the service of humanity and improving the lives of humans.  That is exactly what Polyfins is out to do with Tibot’s Dermatologist in the Loop.

What is Dermatologist in the Loop

Polyfins has developed Tibot an app that is available on iPhone, Android phones and also on the website.  As a first step, Tibot uses AI to assess the skin condition a user is suffering from. The user takes a picture of the skin condition , answers a few smart questions regarding her symptoms and Tibot will give an assessment of the skin condition. The assessment will include three conditions with the probabilities for each of them ranked in the order of higher probability. It is said that 90% of users on discovering a rash ask Google before asking a doctor. Many results on Google can be misleading resulting in delay on treatment. Tibot has been trained and clinically validated at assessing skin conditions so the results are vastly better than a random search on Google.

After giving an assessment of the skin condition, Tibot gives an option of getting the opinion of a certified human dermatologist. If the user chooses this option, the picture and symptoms gathered by Tibot are passed in a secure manner to a certified dermatologist. Within 24 to 48 hours the dermatologist will send his opinion and if needed a prescription to a pharmacy of the user’s choice. All this is done in a secure, HIPAA compliant environment. In US, the average wait time to get an appointment with a dermatologist vs Tibot’s 24 to 48 hours to get a response from a dermatologist. With Tibot there are the usual benefits of tele health like avoiding the need to visit doctors office resulting in wasted time. Tibot charges less than what most people pay as co pay for a dermatologist. Tibot makes healthcare more accessible with better outcomes. It is very common for the richest people in emerging countries and rich middle east countries to travel to US to be treated by US doctors. Using Tibot ordinary people residing on countries such as India or Kenya can get access to a US certified dermatologist.

The third aspect of Tibot is management of chronic skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. These skin conditions cannot be cured and need to be managed. A doctor can specify a careplan for the user with Tibot and Tibot will help the user implement the care plan. This careplan will be a custom careplan made for the user with her specific conditions. Tibot will guide the user in application of creams and ointments. Tibot helps in tracking disease progression. A user can take pictures of her skin condition at regular intervals and Tibot will tell her if her skin condition is getting better or worst. Tibot will also allow her to maintain a log of her diet, flareups, etc and try to find a correlation if any between the flareups and factors such as diet, stress, etc. The user’s dermatologist will have access to this date and can intervene as and when needed. This is what it means by dermatologist in the loop. Technology including AI assisting doctors doing the best for their patients. Technology that makes quality healthcare accessible to people across different financial and geographical boundaries.

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