Nylas: AI can transform the healthcare sector post-COVID-19

Gleb Polyakov, CEO and co-Founder of software development company Nylas, discusses how AI can transform healthcare following the COVID-19 pandemic

AI can make the cutting edge of healthcare more efficient. 

Today, progress towards these and other aims is moving too slowly. Delays cost companies money and cost patients their lives. This matters.

Firstly, a confession. I’m not a healthcare specialist. Before you stop reading – Nylas played an essential role in the vaccine roll-out. We have a broad perspective we believe the healthcare industry will find valuable.

We didn’t invent the vaccine, put needles into arms or care for those most in need. We were awed by those amazing people who did and were grateful we were able to help. We coordinated the schedules of 42mn people with tens-of-thousands of vaccinators. That means hundreds of millions of text messages, emails, slack notifications and calendar reminders. We managed thousands of schedules in hundreds of locations all in continual flux. We made sure both the vaccinator and the patient were in the place they needed to be at the right time, every time. 

Using technology to improve healthcare means there is little room for error. When lives are on the line, small mistakes have a big impact. We understand what it means to work in this industry. That’s why it’s important to speak up and say what we can see going wrong. We see the same opportunities for improvement in finance, retail, travel and logistics – but the stakes are higher. There are two main areas; using developer time more wisely to supercharge health-tech innovation, and securely harnessing the value in communications data to improve outcomes in healthcare.

Supercharging healthcare technology with AI

As digital transformation and the demand for software continue to rise, 'developer time’ can be among the most valuable resources on earth. This is something we have seen the truth of first-hand.

It is developers that build the technology that enables scanners to help spot many more cancers early. Innovative code has the potential to seamlessly enable a single strand of DNA to be rapidly decoded. Programmers will help build the next innovation that might save a million lives. 

For sure, these people will be just one part of skillful teams with clinicians and inventors – but they will make a huge contribution. Their time is more valuable than gold. Right now it is being squandered.

Developers should spend their time only on problems their organisations are uniquely qualified to solve. Everything else should be customised off-the-shelf. It is more reliable and ‘makes the boat go faster.’  To do anything else incurs the additional cost of time and resources lost. Speed matters in the world of innovation. Far too many team leaders believe they can do a better job in-house. Given enough time and limitless resources that may be true; it normally is not.

Nylas’ role here is to connect healthcare providers with customers’ communications. They can help companies quickly, efficiently, and securely unlock the value hidden in communications data and make meaning from it. These customers provide more useful information to patients and customers, while respecting their data privacy. 

Already Nylas clients make well over a billion Nylas API calls every day. They are streaking ahead.


Using patient communications to improve healthcare outcomes

It seems sensible that a patient should be able to talk, text, photo, video, email or WhatsApp their provider. It is not a huge leap to say these words and images can be securely, automatically captured, recorded and appended to their confidential records.

Today this rich insight is normally summarised and logged by a clinician or admin which takes time from patients and leaves room for error. Rich, automated, data capture provides benefits to patients. It ensures that providers have a full view of their needs and the appropriate action to take, and it can be shared with their future healthcare practitioners – with consent. Where appropriate, it can be anonymised, collated and studied to improve outcomes for future patients. 

Solving this seemingly simple problem is surprisingly tricky. We know one finance company that had a team of over 40 developers, product managers, and data analysts working on integrating communications channels. After more than six months of attempting to build this out internally and hundreds of thousands of dollars in research and development, the integration still was not operating as effectively as it could.

Once Nylas was involved it took just a team of  people in just two engineering sprints to complete the integration and have it be five times more effective than before. 

Nylas is used by more than 180,000 developers across the world every day. It helps companies create valuable insight to engage customers and build better experiences. Healthcare providers could, and we believe should do this for patients.

In closing, there are two questions I would like to leave health-tech and healthcare companies with:

Are you using developers’ time wisely? 

Developers want to drive your organisation forward and change the world. What can you do to focus their attention on your unique value and points of differentiation?


Are you capturing the full value from your customer communications? 

Your patients are already sharing everything you need to know. If you could automate information capture, anonymisation and analysis to improve outcomes – would you?


Byline written by Gleb Polyakov, CEO and co-Founder of Nylas


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