I have been a huge fan of Alex Drane – and hugely curious. Everything from how she has a sense of humor in health care to what she’s learned about what inspires and motivates people. So when I had the chance to spend some time with her and team at Eliza Corporation, I took it!
Eliza’s name doesn’t come from the (in)famous artificial intelligence program from the 1980’s (or before?), it comes from Eliza Doolittle – you can tell from my photographs of the office that Audrey and Eliza are everywhere. What Eliza does in health care is to have conversations with people about things of importance using advanced speech recognition technology. That’s the generic version. The specifics are very interesting here.
First of all the “things of importance” are more likely to be the things that people think are important in their health, which is often not the same thing that health care organizations think is important in their health. It could be having a satisfying job more than having a satisfying hemoglobin a1c level. Not being in debt versus not being overweight.
Second, the conversations are not “voice-talent” issued conversations about facts, and costs, and benefits, they are real people voices engaging creatively with language and tone, talking about how statin drugs miss their users and how a high cholesterol is like a headache that affects your whole body.
Eliza has a 400 million call database, and they learn from the scars caused by the responses of people caught in frustration, off guard, or through the irrelevance of poorly written voice scripts. Alex played a few example recorded calls. No question that these will help an organization learn. quickly.
In my tweetstream (which I affectionately hashtag’d #NXNE with respect to my SXSW-attending friends), I referred to Eliza as the repo-men (persons) of health care – they are not typically asked to engage the engaged, they work with the least engaged, working to bring them back into care. This may mean using advanced techniques to reach the most disengaged via privacy-appropriate messages left on family voice mail.
This is an interesting corner of our health system, a place where people understand:
- attitude is everything, and that the mentionables that we are trained to ask about in health care come with a lot of unmentionables, that may be far more engaging to the people we serve
- amazing technology exists to solve every health problem, yet health problems are not solved
- working with the disengaged is a great place to learn
Think about this one – what if a health system realized that consumer debt was tied to weight gain, so instead of setting up a weight management program, it set up a debt management program (or partnered with an organization that services debt) and generated weight loss through debt loss? This is not as farfetched as it might sound, especially if you watch Suze Orman, who has noted a 2 pound weight gain for every $1,000 of hidden debt in her work.
There’s a lot of people working in the field of engagement who can show success from new technologies, maybe in the short term, maybe with a subset of people who are ready to be successful. Eliza seems different, they’ve been doing this for a really long time, have been adjusting their approach, and haven’t been going to the people who would otherwise come to them. Maybe one day Eliza will create an engagement bootcamp, to teach others about the science and the art of of being inspiring. It seems to me this requires strong leadership AND a willingness to learn and grow, or in Alex’s words, to be brave and obsessed….
Photos below, click to enlarge, and don’t be fooled by the spartan surroundings, they walked me through the server room – 400 million calls worth of engaging computers…..