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Involta’s Idaho employees use AI to detect COVID-19

Jeff Szymanski headshot

Jeff Szymanski

A woman with a lovely voice named Eleanor calls up twice a week to inquire how you are doing. She asks you what you like to do in your spare time or what you did this weekend. She even poses some brain-teaser questions. She’s doing all of this because she is concerned about your health.

For several weeks now, this nosy woman has been calling employees at Involta, an IT company providing cloud-computer and other IT services, including two data center facilities and 30 employees in the Boise area.

There’s a twist: Eleanor is a bot run by an artificial intelligence program.

Her trade name is MyEleanor, and she is the voice of an AI-based case management and triage program marketed by New York-based start-up MyndYou. The firm specializes in AI that uses cognitive complexity analysis of speech patterns. Their proprietary software can detect changes in speech, which research has associated with cognitive decline diseases and the onset of certain respiratory conditions.

The software is currently involved in a research trial run by the venerable Massachusetts General Hospital for the remote, automated detection of subtle changes in the speech patterns of Alzheimer’s patients. Based on earlier clinical programs, MyndYou’s AI has shown sensitivity levels of 70% and specificity levels of 90% for disease detection.

Eleanor’s phone calls in Boise are part of a collaboration between Involta and MyndYou, which had its roots when Jeff Szymanski, executive vice president for business development at Involta, met Ruth Poliakine Baruchi, the founder and CEO of MyndYou at the health care technology Allscripts Conference.

“I got talking with Ruth, and the more I learned about MyndYou, the more intrigued I was,” Szymanski told the Idaho Business Review. “This was well before COVID-19 ever showed up.”

Szymanski and Baruchi came up with the idea of using MyndYou’s AI to monitor employee health during the pandemic to screen for the onset of COVID-19.

“Because COVID-19 is a new condition, we do not have any clinical trials related to our detection ability for that specific condition,” Baruchi explained. “Our assumption around COVID-19 is based on our ability to detect changes related to respiratory conditions. We will screen for COVID-19 through (Involta employee) questionnaires, with additional insight into change through the voice analysis.”

When MyEleanor calls, AI-driven voice analytics work in the background to detect subtle changes in the employee’s health. Insights and analytics from the calls will be delivered directly to the employees when a change is detected.

“Employee health is essential to our business performance,” said Jim Buie, Involta President. “We are excited to be participating in the MyndYou program to discover new preventative measures that support employee health and wellness.”

The monitoring program is to help Involta’s employees self-screen for the COVID-19 virus and stay on top of their mental and physical health. COVID-19 screening questions are incorporated into the check-in calls with MyEleanor as a way of drawing attention to symptoms and providing guidance when needed. Ultimately, the collaboration is aimed at promoting health within the Involta workforce, whether related to COVID-19, preexisting chronic conditions or the countless other needs that MyndYou’s engagement and voice analytics solutions can support.

Though not at the level of a clinical trial, the collaboration is an experiment. All the Involta participants are volunteers. Involta’s Idaho employees were offered the chance to participate in the health monitoring program during the last week in April. The program will run through the end of the year. MyndYou established ethics and privacy safeguards to protect the volunteers in the monitoring program. Participation is 100% voluntary, and Involta will never see any employee data or information gathered by the MyEleanor AI. 

Cedar Rapids-based Involta established their first Idaho facility in 2014. Both of their Idaho data centers are in the Boise area. The company is an IT service provider selling cloud-based computing and technology consulting services to over 600 customers, including 150 in the health care sector.

About Catie Clark