The Robot Will See You Now -- AI and Health Care

Older patients may require more engagement to help them manage chronic conditions and keep their healthcare team up to date on their symptoms. Catalia Health, based in San Francisco, have developed Mabu, a personal healthcare assistant robot to address these issues. Catalia presented Mabu at the recent AdvaMed Digital MedTech Conference in San Francisco.
That research, and his further health robotics work, prompted Kidd to found Catalia Health in 2014. He’s been touting the persuasive powers of the startup’s prototype robot, Mabu, at conferences for several years now, based on field tests with patients. An initial production run of 500 yellow Mabus with big amber eyes will begin in China soon, because Catalia has landed its first three commercial contracts to send them into patients’ homes on behalf of clients such as drug companies and healthcare systems.

Catalia Health, a San Francisco-based design company, has introduced the Mabu personal health care companion, an interactive robot about the size of a coffeepot. The system, which has a cartoonish form, listens and speaks and holds a touch-tablet interface. It is designed to act both as a health care coach and to provide a way to stay in touch with doctor’s offices and pharmacies.

“My approach is, ‘Here are the challenges we see in health care. What is the right technology?’” said Cory Kidd, chief executive of the start-up firm. “Robots happen to be great for helping with behavior.”

Passionné par l’application des nouvelles technologies au domaine de la santé, Cory Kidd a lancé Catalia Health avec cette idée en tête. « Nous souhaitons permettre aux patients de demeurer plus longtemps en thérapie. » affirme-t-il. "Confronté à une maladie chronique, le patient doit composer avec un certain nombre de difficultés. Il doit d’abord penser à prendre ses médicaments quotidiennement, à la bonne heure et en respectant les doses prescrites, bien sûr, mais ce n’est là qu’une partie du problème. Il y a également la manière dont le patient vit sa maladie, son état psychologique, les effets secondaires potentiels des médicaments… " Cory Kidd a donc mis au point une plateforme de santé visant à établir des ponts entre patients et médecins, dont le produit phare est un petit robot, baptisé...

Catalia Health’s approach is to focus primarily on creating patient engagement because the effectiveness of any solution requires its long-term use by the patient. Their solution is to combine human psychology (which prefers and trusts content more when it is delivered “in person”) and artificial intelligence. The AI creates unique conversations that are personalized to that patient’s persona and based on the psychology of behavior change.

Current solutions leave too many gaps and fail to engage patients for more than a few weeks. It is presently not cost effective for health providers to call or visit patients daily.

Called “Mabu”, Kidd’s latest robot provides information and support for sufferers of chronic diseases like diabetes, arthritis, cancer and heart disease.


The company has an alpha prototype in its offices and will use the financing from Khosla to scale up its business. Kidd expects to have the first robots on the market by the end of the year and is in discussions with several early potential customers.

“It’s about augmenting doctors and helping them manage a large group of patients much more effectively,” Kidd says.