Sensely is an avatar-based, empathy-driven clinical platform that helps clinicians and patients better monitor and manage their health.

Their virtual assistant, Molly, focuses on bringing the human touch into automated healthcare. We asked what success they’ve had so far?

Sensely fact-file

Established by: Adam Odessky

Founded: 2013

Headquarters: San Francisco

1) What are the most impressive results Sensely has achieved so far?

Team Sensely: Sensely’s most impressive result to date has been a large scale deployment in the UK’s West Midlands, where we’ve been able to demonstrate a digital shift of almost 12% by successfully directing patients towards lower-cost, more efficient services through the Ask NHS app. More importantly, patients love the service!

2) How does Sensely work in tandem with clinicians, rather than replacing them?

TS: Through the use of symptom checker and digital clinical navigation Ask NHS is shifting a percentage of low acuity patient encounters away from clinicians thus helping create additional capacity for the more acute cases where direct clinician contact is essential. In addition, Sensely actively participates in a governance process with clinician teams from its third-party content partners to ensure our product is clinically led. 

3) What are some of the most difficult challenges for Sensely to overcome as you continue to develop the virtual assistant?

TS: Sensely has recently launched a software development kit (SDK), which allows organizations with their own apps and websites to offer the virtual assistant interface. The SDK supports over 30 languages, so the sheer number of combinations of languages mixed with a range of dialect, nuance, characters, syntax, and tone keeps us quite busy.

4) How are Sensely working to ensure that the conversations patients have with the app are always ethical in nature?

TS: One of the goals of the virtual assistant is to create a safe environment for accurate disclosure. We see this goal as synergistically servicing the underlying function of the assistant, which is to direct the patient to the healthcare resource they need, when they need it. Said slightly differently, we focus on empathy, which we believe is the most ethical approach to our work.

5) What are Sensely doing to prevent an increase in health inequalities due to more ‘tech savvy’ users benefitting from their app while others are left behind?

TS: First, we offer our technology across multiple technology platforms, in order to cater to the broadest possible set of end users. Second, we actively seek out innovative partnerships that bring Sensely to non-traditional settings. For example, a recent partnership with Brittania Pharmacy offers residents of Barking Riverside the ability to experience Sensely at their local pharmacy.

Finally, it’s important to note that as traditional interactions shift to digital channels, it creates more capacity, and thus better service, for patients who prefer to continue to utilise those traditional channels, such as phone calls.


6) Where do you see virtual assistants like Sensely heading in 3-5 years? What will drive that change?

TS: It seems likely that virtual assistants will evolve to play a role that is more akin to that of a “companion.” Specifically, it would not be a surprise to see virtual assistants that know more about the user, can anticipate his or her needs, and proactively offer intelligent counsel and advice. 

This interview originally appeared in AIMed Magazine issue 05, a Deep Dive on Robotic Technology & Virtual Assistants available to read here.

Photo Credit:

Sensely on Facebook, with the caption: “The reason we do what we do – making healthcare accessible for the likes of our wonderful patients including 101-year-old Wilma!”