A virtual companion that can deliver around-the-clock personalised healthcare to patients is being launched in Australia by Oz Medicann Group (OMG).

Using sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) technology, Ask Sam will be offered to doctors, clinics and patients across the country.

Featuring a male or female avatar – depending on preference – Ask Sam can be either an AI assistant for GPs or a personal companion for patients, OMG said.

Along with carrying out administrative tasks for medical practitioners, such as appointment reminders and gathering regulatory information, Ask Sam will be on call 24/7 for patients, delivering personalised advice based on a user’s medical history.

While it will initially focus on medicinal cannabis, the bot technology can be shaped to fit any sector of healthcare.

“It’s mind blowing,” OMG chief executive John Leith told Cannabiz. “This will revolutionise the way healthcare is delivered.”

OMG will roll out the technology under a strategic joint venture with United We Care, a US and India-based technology firm specialising in the healthcare sector, and with a focus on mental health.

An estimated 500,000 people are using the AI tech in the US, under the name Stella.

Users in Australia will be able to select the accent and appearance of their avatar, which also has the ability to translate information into 26 languages.

“If you happen to be in Korea, it will translate to a local doctor everything they need know about a patient’s medical history and what medication they are on,” Leith said.

John Leith: ‘It’s mind blowing’

Sam will also issue reminders for when patients should take their medication, offer information on drug interactions and order repeat prescriptions with pharmacies.

While the avatar will not diagnose conditions, it will provide guidance on patient-reported symptoms and call for medical help if required.

“If you wake up at 3am with palpitations after taking a particular  medication, you can ask Sam if you should be feeling this way,” explained Leith. “Sam will know whether that is a side effect of the drug and put your mind at rest or, depending on what the patient says, detect the need to call an ambulance. Any time, day or night, you can converse with Sam.”

In another example of its potential, Leith said Sam could produce prescriptions and medicinal cannabis authorisation forms if patients are stopped by the police or pulled over for a roadside breath test.

It will even know what products are in stock at pharmacies and store product information down to strain type.

“Sam has swallowed an encyclopedia of medicine,” Leith said.

Free trials of the technology will be offered to Australian doctors or clinics by Oz Medicann.

Steve has reported for a number of consumer and B2B titles over a journalism career spanning more than three decades. He is a regulator contributor to health journal, The Medical Republic, writing on...

Leave a comment