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Mabu Catalia Health
Mabu Courtesy of Catalia Health

This Cute Robot Is Trying to Solve a $300 Billion Health Care Problem

May 01, 2017

Taking your medicine can be a hassle. Actually, it can be so much of a hassle that some analyses suggest the U.S. wastes nearly $300 billion per year in health care spending because people don't take their drugs as prescribed. But one company has a unique idea for bucking this trend: An AI-powered robot health care assistant that has conversations with people and nudges them to take their medicine.

San Francisco-based digital health firm Catalia Health has raised $2.5 million in a seed funding extension round led by Khosla Ventures, the company announced on Monday. Catalia describes itself as a "patient care management" outfit. Its tech is paired with a big-eyed, artificial intelligence-fueled robot called Mabu.

Courtesy of Catalia Health 

"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," said Catalia founder and CEO Dr. Cory Kidd in a statement.

Mabu's main purpose is to prevent chronically ill patients with conditions like congestive heart failure or kidney disease from having to go back to the hospital. This could be a boon to medical care providers, who face penalties if too many patients have to be readmitted to their facilities, and to patients who (hopefully) will be able to better manage their diseases.

The health care assistant isn't just an alarm clock for taking drugs, though. It can also strike conversations with patients and gauge their emotional states in order to figure out how to best convince them to properly stick to their treatment protocols.

This essay appears in today's edition of the Fortune Brainstorm Health Daily. Get it delivered straight to your inbox.

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