GVU Brown Bag: Timothy Bickmore, Northeastern University

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ABSTRACT:  Health behavior drives 70% of the cost in the US healthcare system and is responsible for 55% of deaths. Lifestyle health behavior, such as tobacco use and poor diet and inactivity, are among the leading cost drivers and causes of death, but health behavior continues to be a significant cost driver even after the healthcare system gets involved.

Patients often do not show up for appointments or show up unprepared, and, on average, only half of medications are taken as prescribed.

In this talk I will describe a vision for an automated persistent, proactive and personified “health advocate” that functions as a self-care coach for preventive medicine and a mediator for interactions with the healthcare system. I’ll present several systems that my lab has produced or have in development that work towards this vision, spanning wellness promotion to self-care education at hospital discharge to at-home medication adherence promotion. I’ll discuss the dialogue engines and animated conversational agent technology underlying these systems, as well as applications in various stages of clinical trial, and experiences conducting R&D in the healthcare (and NIH) environment.

The applications include exercise promotion for geriatrics patients (in clinical trial in the Geriatrics Clinic at Boston Medical Center) and Spanish-speaking older Latino adults (in clinical trial at Stanford Medical), antipsychotic medication adherence for adults with schizophrenia (completed trial with the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing), and hospital bedside patient education (in clinical trial at Boston Medical Center).

BIO:  Timothy Bickmore is an Assistant Professor in the College of Computer and Information Science at Northeastern University. The focus of his research is on the development and evaluation of computer agents that emulate face-to-face interactions between health providers and patients for use in health education and health behavior change interventions, with a particular focus on the emotional and relational aspects of these interactions. Prior to Northeastern, he spent two years as an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine. Timothy received his Ph.D. in Media Arts & Sciences from MIT.


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