Luma Health releases automated two-way messaging system for patient engagement

By Laura Lovett

San Francisco-based startup Luma Health this morning released its two-way communication chatbot, called Care Pathway Messaging. The new services offers a messaging system for patients and providers. 

“I would define it was as the Swiss Army knife of clinical messaging,” Dr. Tashfeen Ekram, cofounder and chief medical officer, told MobiHealthNews. “[The system] allows us to be able to send highly tailored and personal messages and helps guide patients through their medical journey. There are a lot of moving parts in getting from point A to point B.”

Ekram gave the example of a colonoscopy as a time the system could be put to use. In this situation, a patient would start receiving messages about exam preparations seven days before the procedure. The chatbot could give the user a notification to pick up pre-procedure medication at the pharmacy, a reminder about what they can and can’t eat before the colonoscopy, and information about what to expect on the day of. After the procedure the messaging system can also follow up with patients about norms. 

But it isn’t a ‘one-off’ system, Ekram said. Patients often want to interact with the messages and send replies. 

“When a patient gets a text message they actually assume that the message is being sent by a human. They don’t respond with no or yes — they respond with, ‘I think I’m busy tomorrow, I’ll have to reschedule’ or ‘is there a way I can do 30 minutes later?’” Ekram said. “We don't see ourselves as a communication platform but as a conversation platform. So if someone responds to an appointment reminder saying ‘we can’t make it,’ our chat bot has a conversation with them to help find out how the patient can actually get their foot in the door.”

This isn’t Luma Health’s first tool aimed at facilitating patient provider communications. The company also has a referral management, smart waitlist, actionable reminder, and feedback and reputation management tool as well. 

“Many patients need help with their healthcare. A slight nudge, a timely message, or a tap on the shoulder can be all the patient needs to be on the right track where their health is concerned,” Aditya Bansod, cofounder and chief technology officer at Luma Health, said in a statement. “We built Luma Health to help patients and doctors connect in a way that wasn’t possible before advances in modern technology. Care Pathway Messaging is the next step in our vision to improve patient health by connecting them with the right provider at the right time and with the right message.”

Chatbots have become an increasingly popular way to communicate with patients. At HIMSS18 Dr. Brett Swenson, who runs a concierge practice in Arizona, talked about his experince with chatbot SimplifiMed, highlighting how using chatbots in his flu vaccine campagin bolstered the response rate by 30 percent.