Machines Treating Patients? It's Already Happening

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.


Good health is by far one of the most basic goals people share. As those in the workforce get older, though, and as the senior population continues to balloon, traditional ways of managing chronic conditions simply aren't going to cut it anymore. Enter Mabu, an adorable but seriously sophisticated robot designed to help you take better care of yourself at home.

The brain child of Dr. Cory Kidd, CEO of Catalia Health, Mabu is a portable, bust-like robot you can sit on your nightstand, coffee table, counter or anywhere else that's convenient. Conversation-based, Mabu will ask questions and talk with you to get a sense of how you're feeling on any given day. Data collected about nutrition, activities, pain, etc. then goes to your care team. Mabu can send additional messages to your care team upon request, too.

Home healthcare workers have to visit their patients monthly, weekly or even daily, but with help from a voice-activated assistant like Mabu, they could (and do) provide more focused care to a greater number of people, with the assistant handling some of the routine functions like talking the patient through taking their medicine or completing physical therapy exercises.

Doctors can’t stand over patients at all hours to ensure these things are done, and done correctly, said founder and CEO Dr. Cory Kidd. Augmenting professional care with an AI-powered robot can fuel better treatment compliance while also saving healthcare systems from having to hire more employees, or increase the hours and salaries of existing ones.

AI-powered robots can empower chronically ill patients to manage their health better in the absence of healthcare professionals, according to San Francisco-based startup Catalia Health.

The three-year-old healthtech startup, which recently raised $3.75 million in a seed round led by Khosla Ventures, has developed software that pairs with its robot, called Mabu, and works with chronically ill patients to increase medication adherence, improve symptom management, and reduce the likelihood of being readmitted into hospital.

Catalia Health, which makes an AI-powered patient engagement robot called Mabu, has raised $2.5 million in a new round led by Khosla Ventures. Additional investments came from new investors NewGen Capital and Macnica Ventures and existing investors Q Venture Partners Limited, InnoLinks Ventures, Abstract by Flight.VC, DeNA and Lucky Capital. This brings the company's total funding to $3.75 million.

“This investment enables us to hit two major milestones: roll out Mabu to our first patients and obtain significant data that will show the benefits of our platform to patients and customers,” Catalia CEO Dr. Cory Kidd said in a statement.