Using AI to Surpass Health Potential

Using AI to Surpass Health Potential - One Drop
Updated: 4/18/23
Read time: 6 minutes
  • The United States healthcare system cannot adequately support people with chronic conditions; artificial intelligence (AI) can help by augmenting and complementing the human elements of healthcare.
  • One Drop AI can reduce the cognitive burden caused by chronic condition management by forecasting health outcomes and generating actionable advice.
  • We value data privacy and use de-identified data to power One Drop AI and personalize our user experience.

Diabetes is not managed in the doctor's office. It's managed at home, in the car, at the office, and any other location you spend the majority of your days. Most people with any chronic condition, including diabetes, spend only an hour or two each year with their doctors; the other 8,758 hours they spend on their own, living their lives.

Back in 2001, researchers predicted that 7.2% of the U.S. population would have a diabetes diagnosis by 2050. We passed that milestone shortly after, in 2005, when 7.3% of adults aged 18 and older had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, type 2 diabetes, or type 1 diabetes. This percentage does not account for the millions of other people living with undiagnosed diabetes or prediabetes. 

According to the most recent CDC National Diabetes Statistics Report, 11.3% of today’s U.S. population has diabetes (diagnosed and undiagnosed); 36.9% have prediabetes. For these nearly 160 million Americans to spend just two hours a year with a primary care doctor would take over 57 hours per week from every active family medicine or general practice physician in the country. Remember, most U.S. physicians work between 40 and 60 hours per week. So, it is shortsighted to think our healthcare system can adequately support people with chronic conditions or minimize our nation's growing diabetes epidemic.

Better Habits, Better Health

Even with access to the most outstanding medical care, everyone needs to learn to care for themself and their condition and make decisions geared toward better health during the 8,758 hours per year spent outside the doctor's office.

So, where to begin? Eat a balanced diet. Prioritize sleep. Move often. Reduce stress. But nutritional needs, optimal hours of rest, and so on are unique to the individual. There is no one-size-fits-all path to well-being. Everyone needs different things at different times. Right now, what's happening in your body is at least somewhat different from what's happening in the person next to you, as is the next best step towards better health. 

For people with chronic conditions like diabetes, it's critical to become in tune with your body, then regularly engage in behaviors that optimize your health and minimize complications. This is where artificial intelligence fits in.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to computer systems and software that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as speech recognition and reasoning. Machine learning (ML) is a subset of AI that uses algorithms to recognize patterns in data and generate insights or predictions. Over time, these algorithms can become increasingly accurate.

Today, many people link artificial intelligence to Chat GPT, an AI language learning model that can understand and respond to questions and statements conversationally. Other real-world examples of AI include virtual assistants (e.g., Siri, Alexa) and self-driving cars (e.g., Tesla).

At One Drop, we've been using AI/ML since 2018, starting with blood glucose forecasts for people with type 2 diabetes coupled with actionable insights.

How Does One Drop AI Work?

Our AI learns from everyone using One Drop, leveraging nearly 50 billion longitudinal health data points from approximately 1.5 million members worldwide to predict future glucose levels and other important biomarkers. The success of One Drop AI comes down to the size of our data wealth, the diversity of data sources and types (i.e., glucose, weight, blood pressure, food, physical activity, etc.), and the ability of our predictive models to rapidly execute simple equations over and over again.

Simply put, One Drop AI looks at what's happening with you in real time, compares your experience to others, and thinks, "Hey, we've seen similar situations before. Here's what you can expect will happen next and your best course of action." With further development, we could begin conveying, "Yes, sleep, diet, and exercise are all important, but for you, right now, the most important thing for your health is how to learn to work with managing stress levels.” Or "These new habits you’ve implemented are putting you on the right track for real improvement." 

Ideally, AI can also set the best goals for you, learn when you want more (or less) personal attention, suggest the best content, and guide developers in creating even more effective programs tailored to you.

Our goal is to provide members with turn-by-turn navigation for better health. When combined with a cross-disciplinary approach, behavioral data science, our first-to-market predictive intelligence goes beyond data generation, reducing the cognitive burden caused by managing a chronic condition like diabetes and impacting core health behaviors linked to better outcomes

Our differentiated capabilities include: 

Friends or Foes: AI and Humans

We believe AI should augment and complement, not replace, human elements of healthcare. At One Drop, AI and human-led coaching are independent, critical components of a data-driven feedback loop that enables personalized insights and guidance for optimal results.

AI-powered features simplify healthy decision-making by connecting everyday behaviors with outcomes and offering ongoing guidance to complement the support members receive from their One Drop coach, available via in-app text chat. Our coaches are real humans and certified health professionals, including certified diabetes care and education specialists and registered dietitian nutritionists. Coaches have real-time access to member data and their responses to prompts, quizzes, and commitment pledges for healthy behaviors. With insight into a member’s progress and level of engagement, coaches are in a better position to help by delivering timely content and proactive support. 

Today, One Drop Premium members can work with a coach, access educational resources, and receive eight-hour blood glucose forecasts for type 2 diabetes—linked to better engagement and diabetes outcomes. Also available in the app: blood pressure trends, behavioral reinforcements, and alerts for hypertensive crises.

Our Commitment to Data Privacy

All this talk of data use may have you thinking about the safety and security of your own data. First, you should know that the billions of data points used to train our algorithms are de-identified. Furthermore, we adhere to a strict privacy policy. We will never sell or trade your data or share it with anyone without permission. One Drop AI only uses your de-identified data to improve your user experience and support you and members worldwide on your journey to better health. We are grateful for the opportunity.


This article was co-written by Andrea Lagotte.

*Capability has yet to be implemented in the One Drop user experience as of April 2023.
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Dan Goldner, PhD
Aug 18, 2020

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