How can Health Chatbots Assist in the Opioid Crisis?
My Interview with Ron Chabot, medtech entrepreneur and…former addict
By Denise Silber
Ron and I had met a few years ago through our shared professional interest in international telemedicine. When I contacted him about participating in a Boston-based chatbots for health challenge, organized by Basil Strategies partner, Pastel Health a few weeks, ago I had no idea about his personal story.
At 39, says Ron Chabot, I was sitting on top of the world, with a wife and children, a great job as president of the US subsidiary of a Japanese surgical device company. Oblivious to what was happening to me personally, I was about to enter the worst decade of my life. Too many business trips, too much alcohol, a failing marriage, anxiety. With one harmless opioid prescription prior to a surgery, I was hopelessly hooked to the meds., and combined with the alcohol my life fell apart and I lost everything. I got fired from eight jobs, my wife and kids left. I tried every rehabilitation program out there to no avail. I had to find myself behind bars for a few months in order and meet up with a therapist who could help me succeed. While in jail, I saw the devastation of opioid addiction in the young and old and at every level of American society. When I got out, I knew I wanted to help diminish this suffering.
And so did partners Pastel Health and Basil Strategies want to help. We selected opioid addiction, hands down, as the chatbot challenge theme.
The night before, Ron met up with Pastel Health founders Frederic Gonnet and Jacques Durand, at the Cambridge Innovation Center to prep. Since chatbot challenges begin with an explanation of the medical problem to solve, it would be Ron’s role to explain the critical issues in managing opioid addiction. Next the team from Pastel Health would explain how chatbot ideas are developed, thanks to a logical decision-tree type approach and a specialized hosting platform with chatbot prototypes.
The participants, as it turned out, were grad students from Boston University and Tufts and local residents. Only one physician had some coding experience. They were divided into four teams and proceeded to brainstorm. Frederic and Jacques assisted with the conception of rudimentary prototypes. Finally, two projects were considered worthy of future technical development and distribution.
Ron had invited his life-long friend and business partner, Joseph Krieger, president of Boston Biolife, which specializes in continuing medical education for cutting edge technologies, a CME accredited company founded by his partner and supporter of our efforts, Sarah Carroll. Both Joe and Ron were impressed by the challenge. “We admire the fact that a French company coming to the US for the first time would take on this topic and commit to an open innovation platform. This chatbot technology and Pastel Health clearly hold the promise to disrupt communication in healthcare.”
And more on this happy ending: Ron and Joe and Boston Biolife will be taking one of the new chatbot prototypes along to their regenerative medicine/pain management/MSK conference in San Diego on November 17th. Stay tuned!
And did I mention that FrenchTech Hub will support these challenges in its locations in the US….?
Please let us know, how chatbots for health and our platform can help you with the challenges your health / medical company is working on in Europe, North and South America, Africa, Asia, and let’s collaborate.