Recently, I attended a session of a referral network group. I had not attended it before, so was a 1st time experience. It is an interesting model, wherein we join this group by paying a fee and then we network with members, who can refer business, from their contacts. I joined the session as a visitor and at the end of the session, they asked me about my interest in joining the group. It was a tentative yes, coz wanted to know more about it, especially the members of this chapter were entrepreneurs in business verticals, where AI would just be a fad and very low possibility of business. But, one never knows, so a tentative yes.


Well, that tentative yes, led to a series of calls from the core team members, to join the group. My candid question was WIFM? Do they foresee any possibilities of any business for my organization? The folks on the call didn’t have an answer, so a F2F meeting was organized.

Staying invested…

The guys who came for F2F meeting tried to convince to join the group, even though there was no certainty or clarity re: any ROI. They kept saying that one should stay invested in the group and possibly, one fine day some dude may give some business.

Only that part clicked with me, not to join the group, but to staying invested. As a general principle it is to keep plugging, as long as one can or in other words if you have the means, staying invested in the mission that one is on. It definitely boils down to ability to sustain the mission, financially, emotionally and strategically. For us, financially, it is tight-rope walk, but as long as the team has the passion, we will stay invested in the product we are developing.

Carpe Diem!


The experience of running customer engagement program for diabetes clinics gave deep insights into the impact of constant interactions, motivations and education to patients.

Each of our outbound calls to patients, was an educational call, telling them about impact of diabetes on brain, eyes, heart, kidneys, foot. Some of our calls were educating the need for regular check-up, besides the need for regular measurement of their blood glucose levels.

It came out quite apparently that patients were poorly educated about the complications due to diabetes. They really appreciated the education and insights provided. It was evident that the compliance levels to a treatment protocol, shot up. This was also presented as a report to reputed BMJ, comparing outcomes, for a cohort of patients who were constantly engaged and another cohort, who were not part of this customer engagement program, over a 6 month period. For the 1st group, the HbA1C levels fell by 0.7% and for the 2nd group, it shot up by 1.2%. Thus, clearly demonstrating that customer engagement has deep impact on improving compliance to a care plan.

Execution challenges

While constant engagement showed excellent clinical outcomes, to achieve that, diabetes clinics had to juggle with –

  • Trained manpower
  • Number of staff, depending on the volume of patients
  • High attrition rate
  • Non availability of team, outside of office hours
  • Constant and periodic retraining
  • Analysis of call recordings for constant improvements

Thus, it required the diabetes clinics to create different processes, metrics and teams to handle above and yet, that success was not good

Virtual avatar

Thus, came the birth of ‘virtual avatar’ of a clinical ‘subject matter expert’. The ‘virtual avatar’ would be ‘trained’ sufficiently to interact with the patients, 24x7x365, through a smartphone, which has become pervasive in today’s world. This ‘virtual avatar’ is a voice based virtual assistant that is developed using AI models and techniques, trained using a conversational corpus and understands the compliance guidelines, given by the ‘subject matter expert’, to an individual, during 1st interaction, to ‘intelligently’ interact at regular intervals. The idea is to nudge the patient to follow compliance guidelines given, so as to stay healthy.

Virtual avatar for obesity

Obesity has reached chronic proportions in the western world due to affluence, abundance and marketing of large corporations. In US itself, 35-40% of population is obese and a large # in pre-obese category. Clinically, obesity leads to other serious complications, like diabetes, hyper-tension and CVD.

This gives birth to creating virtual avatar for obesity. It is going to be a game changer, as will nudge patients to lead a healthy lifestyle. There are many offshoots that can be carved out from this program. It is at its early stage and should mature in next 6 months.