Measuring and evaluating mental health and well-being is very challenging, especially during the COVID-19 outbreak. Our emotions are key for overall well-being, but there is a lack of objective and scalable patient perspective evaluations. Social distancing, quarantine, and isolation during the pandemic outbreak exponentially magnify the problem. In this episode, Anna Kaczmarska shares an innovative solution. Through her company, Hfeels, people can access tools for well-being within the comforts of their own home. With its facial recognition system, Hfeels enables remote access to healthcare that aid in evaluating the emotional and mental state of an individual. Read about how Anna is transforming the industry by bridging the long-standing gap between innovation and healthcare.
Listen to the podcast here:
Caring For Patients At Home With Face-Reading AI With Hfeels CEO, Anna Kaczmarska
Hfeels is a facial emotion recognition system combined with an automated well-being platform. We offer remote monitoring for mental and emotional health solutions with the health marketplace, now redesigned for the COVID-19 social distancing problem.
Our guest is Anna Kaczmarska coming in from Poland and she is with Hfeels.
Warren, thank you.
I’m coming to you quarantine from Las Vegas. We do want to get to know you. How did you become the health innovation expert that you are?
I was working in innovation in the tech industry and one day I felt unfulfilled with my work. At the end of the day, I was making more numbers for the company and I felt like, “We all make money, let’s do something more meaningful.” I decided to change the industry. That’s the way I started working as a consultant for healthcare providers and then eventually, I set up my own company. Hfeels is my third company in the healthcare innovation industry. We worked in 22 countries with healthcare groups, hospitals, clinics, doctors, insurance companies, government. We’ve done lots of things and we’ve seen lots of challenges on every side of the story.
You’ve got some interesting technology coming up and I want to get to that, but we try to make sure we cover the subject that you know better than the average person. I could complain about my healthcare all the time. In the United States, I know we have great things all over the place, but then again, I get sick and I wind up with a huge bill. Other places, there’s not a bill. There’s a lot of discussion about that fighting with insurance companies. I find everybody is complaining about something and there are innovations to fix that. A lot of people are working on various things to make things run smoother, to give the doctor more time with the patient. What usually keeps us from using all of this innovation?
I’m asking myself the same question every day and I couldn’t find the exact answer, but this is my role in healthcare. There is a gap between innovation and actual healthcare. There is amazing technology out there. People doing amazing things, the healthcare providers who are doing tremendous work and they’re doing their best, but challenging to implement that technology and innovation into the day-to-day operations. It takes time, it takes resources, and everything has to be validated. Given the timing of COVID-19, this is a tremendous opportunity to make that shift and transformation. We forced to innovate to change things. We see the way our healthcare works which are unfunctional anymore and we are forced to innovate. We are very busy. We already are preparing our clients for the post-COVID-19 phase. Things are never going to be the same, especially in healthcare. We are also developing a technology that is trying to mitigate the entire situation we are in. As everyone knows, we need to implement things that enable remote access to healthcare and wellness. What does it mean to be healthy and what’s well-being? All these questions, we need to find answers and solutions quickly.
I complain about technology not being accepted that’s why you call me a futurist because I figured it out. I’d like to live in the moment and I’m right here and I’ve learned from the past. That’s okay. The rest of my life, I intend to be in the future. Let’s put for getting it implemented as fast as possible. I understand that the record age is 117, 120, fewer people like that, and they’re not finding a cure for that part, but they are doing some stuff about aging. I need to stay healthy. I’ve got about half my life left to live and I don’t want to spend it old and decrepit. I may be taken early. I may die at 90, but I’ve got to be planning. This is going to be around for a while.
There is great hope for you if things are changing quickly. You might be living even 300 years, who knows?
The whole thing is before I turn 120, we’ll have some cures that’ll take care of that longevity. It’s not a matter of I’m scared to die or don’t want to die, but why not stick around? I’m having fun. With that outlook, let’s get the technology coming faster. Especially in healthcare, but I find it in banking, insurance and anything that has some regulation on it, that if I have to talk to somebody, they expect me to pick up a phone and call and they’re sitting in an office. I’m thinking, “My life works fine without going to an office. Why do I have to go to a bank?” Why can’t I do a conversation like this with my banker? There was a security update where some of the Zoom meetings may not be for whatever reason, but Telegram, Zoom and for that matter, most email. It’s secure enough that, “Let’s go ahead and have a conversation.”Things are never going to be the same post-COVID-19, especially in healthcare. Click To Tweet
In healthcare, we are facing a huge issue with that and a huge shift when it comes to privacy. Things are going to be interesting because I believe that some changes already happen and that’s irreversible. Let’s see how things are going to work. While we are alive, let’s have the best quality of life as possible. In everything I do and in our team, our lane is like, “Be happy and healthy.” That’s it. Our goal is to provide tools to make it accessible to more people because at this point, transferring is not secure and not easy. There are ways to change it through innovation and technology.
I tried some telemedicine years ago and a friend was working on a project to sell it. He signed me up and I said, “I’m going to use this. I don’t go to see doctors,” almost never. I don’t like taking the time out to go through that process to go to their office to get the five minutes with the smart guy. I love the interface with the doctor but getting there is a pain. I’d like to ask my doctor a question, daily, weekly, sometimes like that. I’ve got something I’d like to ask and it’s not about paying for it, which is another problem all to itself. It’s the fact that I want instant access. I tried this telemedicine, they couldn’t take care of anything I need. I needed prescriptions refilled. They weren’t licensed to do that in my state. I could only talk to doctors from Nevada if I wanted to do that and most of them said, “No. That prescription, we can’t take care of. You need to go and see somebody physically. Did you get that setup? Maybe we could help you with the refill, but we can do that once a year as an emergency.” I’m going like, “You’re wasting my time.”
It would take 15, 20 minutes to get the session set up. More often than not, they didn’t want to use video for whatever reason. “The video doesn’t work on my end. Let’s just talk.” Phone call is okay because that’s better than what I had before but it failed every single time for one reason or another. I get thinking of the people that will be having more time or less employed or whatever you want to call it. We’ll find something for everybody to do. That’s a challenge. One of the things we need is more caregivers speaking face-to-face with people and spending their time with people developing a real relationship, whether that’s virtual or onsite or however it’s done. To do that, you’ve got some innovation there. Let’s talk a bit about that. What will Hfeels allow people to do?
We enable well-being anytime, anywhere. That’s what we’re trying to do. It sounds beautiful. The question is how do we make it happen, especially in the timing of COVID-19? We’ve been working from several years on the patient experience and methodology for healthcare. One of our expertise, social like International Healthcare, medical tourism and the human-centered type of solutions. One of the technologies that we develop is a facial emotion recognition system. It’s essential, especially in this timing of social distancing, isolation and quarantine. People who already struggle with mental health, we were talking like severe depression, suicidal patients, but people wouldn’t consider it mental health, but they simply struggle. They sit alone at home. Things are different the way before. Things are changing quickly. There is a lot of fear and panic around us. In normal circumstances, you might reach out to a psychologist, psychiatrist or any wellness professional, but there are limited things that you can do.
We have this technology that can remotely monitor and evaluate the emotional and mental state of an individual. The important part is the technology that analyzes all the data. It’s machine learning, AI that then translates that data into specific solutions. If we have an individual let’s say with severe depressions and we see that for a few days if this person is reading or doing well. There’s the red flag and that incident will be reported to the right people in the healthcare or wellness industry and there might be a specific intervention. If a person is not feeling great for the third day, we are also able to give them interactive and proactive advice like, “Maybe it’s time to go for a walk or maybe it’s time to call your friend.” There is much proactive health and wellness type of advice and then integrates that with the health wellness industry. We are also working with a few others like cross value chain solutions with other industries, InsurTech, leisure and pharma.
You could do some checking and ask people if you needed to know what somebody’s temperature was that could be done remotely easily enough. You’re talking about recognition, is it a video? Who is the person talking to when they do the emotional recognition?
We have a few ways that we can analyze it, images, text, video or voice. We are also integrating thermal imaging because it’s important given the situation to be able to assess that as well. We can assess the overall emotional state of the user in this case. Integrate that with the entire personality and behavioral trends of the specific person that we learned through machine learning and AI behind it.
A therapist probably in quarantine can talk to people but not do full-on therapy sessions they’re used to. I suppose some do. Most of what I know comes from watching it on TV where everybody is in crisis and then they call their therapist. It’s always an issue with the therapist is out of town, retiring or whatever like that. “What will I do? I’ve been seeing you for 30 years.” To me, “Thirty years?” I do have friends that get into crisis and in talking to them, I can tell something’s changed, something’s different. I call it a good mood or a bad mood. After raising kids, watching people and learning to love everyone regardless of who they are or what they’re doing, I’m at the point where I go, “It’s a good person. It’s just got something going wrong with them,” especially from the friend. I see that and I’m thinking, “That must be an inkling of what a therapist does is being able to figure out who’s going to go out and slash somebody and who’s going to slash themselves and then who is okay and they’re getting better on a broad scale?”
It’s a sensitive subject. Another aspect of the whole story is the fact that no one wakes up with depression, isn’t it? It’s a process. If we’re able to catch that person just in time and provide them even a simple mindset type of exercise. Mindfulness, it makes a difference.
It’s 24/7. The person wakes up in a bad mood could check-in and get something to do right away.Hfeels gives people the tool to access healthcare support within the comforts of their own home. Click To Tweet
The other aspect also about it is the fact of reaching out for help. In many cases, people are still a little hesitant about that or in a situation where I need the help of a therapist or psychologist. That gives a tool where people can access support within the comfort of their own home. We’re also in control of how they’re dealing and have available tools that they can use whenever they want.
You distributed this through the healthcare providers, insurance and all of the coverage or not coverage or payment and all that’s taken care of by them. You talked about having something where this will go directly to users. Is that something you’re planning and doing?
We’re finalizing all the technology and we’re working on the integration with a healthcare and wellness industry. Also, integrations with other industries like pharma and InsurTech. We’re planning to launch it to B2C. Our first mark is based in Europe. The second city-based is in the US and then Asia. Hopefully, we’ll be in your country soon.
If somebody is in worry too much because of the COVID or whatever. They already have a situation, a diagnosis, and they go back to their healthcare provider and see if this signup thing is available for them. In the future, it will be available for more. Is the volume up on using your services since COVID?
It’s huge. We are working round-the-clock to bring it to the market as soon as possible because the need is there. I believe we can make much impact and help many people. We focus on B2B, healthcare professionals that most of them, they cannot meet with the patients face-to-face. This is about making daily life easier. On the other side, we also look at working with technology to make it available to B2C and then bring that bridge, the gap between these two parties.
If somebody needs to know more about you or get a connection to a provider or whatever, is there a place to go? Do you have a website where they can find out about this?
Thank you for coming and speaking with us.
Thank you much, Warren, for the invite. I hope you stay healthy and safe during this crazy time and hopefully, we come up out of this stronger and better than ever.
About Anna Kaczmarska
Anna helps healthcare and wellness providers worldwide to open new business opportunities and develop their innovations. Her vision is to enable healthcare anytime, anywhere and empower people when it comes to their own health decisions, through health tech and patient-centered innovation.
Kaczmarka’s background is international business development and economics with the Harvard degree in Healthcare Innovation. She is also a President of a Medical Marketing Association and Board Member of the Pharmaceutical Association in Spain, UK and Dubai.
She founded the company with a vision to transform healthcare through integration of innovation and optimum patient experience with traditional medical practices to achieve the optimum satisfaction and engagement of patients and doctors.
Passionate about new technologies and health innovation, she dedicates her work to improve patient experience and access to healthcare.