This Novel AI Tool Will Provide Better Care to Pregnant Women in Kenya - medtigo



This Novel AI Tool Will Provide Better Care to Pregnant Women in Kenya

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Kenya has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, and more than one-third of maternal and newborn fatalities are attributable to mothers’ delays in obtaining care.

A new tool developed by a team of Penn State researchers and Jacaranda Health, a non-profit dedicated to improving maternal and neonatal health outcomes in Africa, has been shown to improve health outcomes for new and expectant mothers in Kenya by improving and expediting access to maternal health care services.  

The team’s technology, TRIage for Mothers using AI (TRIM-AI), use natural language processing — a type of AI that enables machines to comprehend written and spoken language — to evaluate text messages and highlight those containing language it detects as signaling a potential threat.

Messages that have been flagged are assigned a weighted risk score and then delivered to a small team of help-desk operators who analyze case emergency levels and determine which instances require immediate medical attention and which can be responded to directly.  

As per Penn State University, compared to Jacaranda Health’s baseline AI model, TRIM-AI is around 17% more accurate at predicting high-risk medical conditions from text messages sent by new and expecting Kenyan mothers, resulting in a 13% reduction in help-desk agent burden. Additionally, their model annotated communications more effectively and precisely than human agents.  

Amulya Yadav, PNC Career Development Assistant Professor at Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology, stated, “Being able to swiftly and effectively automate the classification of communications is a vital step in enhancing maternal health care.” “Our solution enhances the system’s ability to identify high-risk instances in real time, allowing moms to be connected with local hospitals and clinics more quickly.”  

TRIM-AI is deployed using a two-way text messaging system that was developed by Jacaranda Health. Their system, known as PROMPTS, is a free platform that allows pregnant and new mothers to obtain answers and vital information regarding pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum care.  

“At the current level of PROMPTS, we rely more and more on rapid, dependable mechanisms to expedite care for moms in need of lifesaving treatment. Our cooperation with Penn State has improved the precision and speed with which we communicate with the 2 million moms on PROMPTS, ensuring that they receive the appropriate care at the appropriate time, according to Sathyanath Rajasekharan, co-executive director of Jacaranda Health.  


The fact that PROMPTS in Kenya has more than 350,000 active users and receives 1.1 million messages each month makes it extremely difficult for agents to appropriately select and prioritize the most critical cases. TRIM-AI, which was introduced by Jacaranda Health in June 2022, automates a significant portion of this triaging by interpreting communications that are frequently transmitted in a combination of English and Swahili and decoding abbreviations, symbols, and other shorthand.  

Jacaranda Health reports that moms who submit flagged messages are contacted within an hour by a help desk employee and routed to care, with 85 percent of reported cases involving mothers going to the hospital. “With the success of our pilot deployment, we are incentivized to investigate the possibilities of scaling up our risk-prediction technology to improve maternal care in other developing nations,” Yadav stated.  

Yadav and Rajasekharan worked in conjunction with Jay Patel of Jacaranda Health and Penn State students Wenbo Zhang, Hangzhi Guo, Prerna Ranganathan, Nidhi Danayak, and Manan Gupta. The project was partially funded by a grant from Google Research AI for Social Good. From February 7 to 14, the team will present its findings at the 37th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Washington, D.C. 


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