Business Class: Startup Madison Develops Conversational AI Technology for Healthcare | Economic news

Nick Myers recalls that at the age of around 8 he had to deal with a heartbreaking diagnosis of leukemia and the treatment that followed.

The current CEO and co-founder of Madison-based startup RedFox AI, with an office on the city’s East Side, struggled with oral medication. His only alternative was massive injections his parents had to give him, he said. The procedure sometimes required advice from a medical professional over the phone, which for Myer’s parents sometimes meant waiting minutes or even hours to get someone on the phone.

That experience fuels Myers’ ambitions now that RedFox AI is actively developing technology, using conversational artificial intelligence, that aims to help people understand how to pass specific medical tests, such as cancer screening. And Myers envisions a future in which an AI digital guide not only educates a user, but also offers emotional support.

RedFox AI was launched in 2019, Myers said, initially with a focus on using the skills of Amazon’s Alexa virtual technology assistant as the backbone for building voice apps. But after the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the healthcare industry, Myers and the RedFox AI team of fewer than five employees shifted focus. Amid the health crisis, the team has watched how millions of people have turned to diagnostic tests to find out if they have contracted the disease.

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Then in August 2021, RedFox unveiled its conversational AI technology, which has so far captured the attention of businesses and healthcare organizations both locally and in the United States. The startup has yet to receive its first round of investment funding, Myers said, but he expects that will change soon. RedFox has grown without external funds since its inception, he said.

“Nick Myers and his team have built a conversational AI platform that represents a wave to come,” said Wisconsin Technology Council President Tom Still, who saw the technology demoed in 2019.” (The Software ) is a great example of bespoke conversational AIs, which can be “trained” for specific uses. It’s a natural evolution of voice AI technology with possible uses in healthcare, which is the target of RedFox, but also in other sectors of activity.

Pulling the software onto his phone and computer screen, RedFox chief technology officer and co-founder Brett Brooks demonstrated Wednesday how the technology is supposed to work. The user asks the AI ​​a question about a medical test, in this case for COVID-19, and a voice similar to Apple’s Siri or Alexa responds. The technician then provides instructions on how to take the COVID-19 test and assists the user with any issues that may arise during its administration.

Visually, the AI ​​looks like a text conversation between two parties. It is also web-based, Brooks said, allowing the user to use the technology with any interface. On his work computer was code that allowed him to make changes to the software if necessary.

Myers said a mobile app could be available down the road.

Already, the startup is in talks with companies like Madison’s biomedical giant Exact Sciences, maker of the Cologuard test, which lets people screen for colon cancer at home, as well as Milwaukee’s Rockwell Automation and other companies to bring its technology to market.

But formal agreements have yet to be signed, Myers said.

A power plant?

RedFox AI likely plays a role in what Washington, DC-based think tank Brookings Institution said last fall is Madison’s potential to become an AI powerhouse. Educational institutions like UW-Madison are only reinforcing this notion, says a Brookings report.

Brookings used seven metrics to assess the search capabilities and business activities of 385 metropolitan areas in the United States. The measures classify each domain into one of five categories.

The report featured Madison as a research hub (the third category), but suggested that to keep up with the country’s emerging AI industry, local business leaders should forge more business research partnerships. with UW-Madison, promote entrepreneurship and encourage local employment. retention and attraction.

“Significant sums are flowing into the region to support near-exclusive contracts or research and development initiatives,” explained Mark Muro, senior fellow at Brookings and co-author of the report last fall. “That’s very important in itself. At the same time, as the federal research performed at UW-Madison also creates a talent base of qualified researchers and graduate students, there is a pipeline for future expansion of AI.

Digest

Madison-based electronic health records company DeliverHealth acquired Presidio Health, a San Francisco-based health technology company for an undisclosed amount in recent weeks. Presidio Health

  • provides software that helps read medical records, and DeliverHealth aims to simplify healthcare workflows not only for EHRs, but also for patient engagement and technology that tracks revenue streams.
  • the
Madison Area Economic Partnership

pilots a ride-sharing program for its eight-county coverage area. MadREP partners with

  • to help people without adequate transportation options get to work. The program will provide a subsidy of $500 per van per month for up to three pools of vans, according to a statement from MadREP. The organization plans to announce some companies that are taking advantage of the program in the coming weeks.
  • An organization that promotes the growth of women and minority-led businesses, based in Madison

invested $50,000 in a company that created a “toolkit” that helps people plan development projects through its Evergreen Fund.

  • is a Milwaukee-based women and veteran-led company.
  • the

both the Technology Commercialization Center and the

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
  • , has opened its 13th round of grants for public companies to apply for. The deadline is July 21. Launched in 2014, the fund has awarded grants to 82 companies, totaling $2.8 million.
  • An inauguration ceremony of
Greater Madison Urban League
  • The Black Business Hub development on the south side of town is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. April 8 at 2222 South Park St.

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