AI on aisle 5: ASU engineering students automate health care delivery

Arizona State University alumnus and AdviNOW Medical Product Director Tarek Saleh demonstrates the artificial-intelligence-enabled Akos Med Clinic

ASU alumnus and AdviNOW Medical Product Director Tarek Saleh demonstrates the artificial-intelligence-enabled Akos Med Clinic at a Safeway grocery store near ASU’s Tempe campus. ASU students and alumni from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering have been instrumental in developing cutting-edge AI technology for the Phoenix metro area medtech startup. Photo by Erika Gronek/ASU


Imagine being guided through your next doctor’s visit using augmented reality and artificial intelligence.

It’s not science fiction, but a reality at five Safeway grocery stores in the Phoenix metro area, including a location on the south edge of the Arizona State University campus in Tempe.

ASU alumni and students make up about two-thirds of employees at AdviNOW Medical, a Scottsdale-based medtech startup specializing in the self-guided medical stations popping up around the Valley.

As patients wait to see a health care professional, an augmented reality-based platform guides them to enter their vitals and record symptoms, then generates a diagnosis and treatment plan. When patients meet with their health care provider, either in person or through video consultation, the provider can easily verify the AI-collected information and confirm the patient’s diagnosis.

Incorporating the technology into a basic health care visit allows providers to spend valuable time with patients, answering questions and discussing their treatment plan.

AdviNOW Medical has been developing this technology for about two years, with graduate student interns and recent alumni from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering contributing their skills and knowledge about the latest AI technologies. Ten ASU alumni and interns are current employees, while eight others have completed their internships or graduated.

Preparing students to be highly sought-after talent

AdviNOW Medical Founder and Chief Executive Officer James Bates, who is also CEO of Akos Med Clinic, particularly looks for ASU graduate students to fill his company’s internships. He says they're often the types of students who have excellent fundamental skills, a good work ethic and are getting an education in the newest developments in their field.

“When I very first founded (AdviNOW Medical), I needed to go find talent,” Bates said. “You can go get interns, but if they’re not high quality, it doesn’t help you. You need people who are going to be dedicated, who are going to be able to learn quickly and have a foundation in the skillset before they even start. With ASU, we’ve been able to find a good track record of solid students who have come in and worked on revolutionary technology.”

Bates noted that ASU’s project-based approach to education is a great preparation strategy for AI technology interns and professionals.

“As you’re going through and being forced to execute on those projects, you actually learn the ability to be able to learn in a real job,” Bates said. “We found that to be very advantageous.”

In and out of the classroom, the Fulton Schools challenge students to develop solutions to real-world problems in AI, automation, medtech and many other fields.

“Our students are well-positioned to make effective contributions as interns and eventually full-time employees owing to the variety of experiences we provide,” said Kyle Squires, dean of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. “Our academic programs and many extracurricular opportunities sharpen problem-solving skills, design thinking, teamwork, communications and the other critical needs of our industry partners.

“These many engagements that bring industry partners into contact with students to provide and mentor projects are the result of a strategic focus on hands-on training that is vital to the success of the future workforce.”

Photo of two men standing

ASU electrical engineering alumnus Chaitanya Prakash Potaraju talks with AdviNOW Medical Founder and Chief Executive Officer James Bates at the grand opening of the fifth Akos Med Clinic at a Safeway grocery store near the ASU Tempe campus. Potaraju worked over the summer as an AdviNOW Medical intern, developing computer vision technology used in the Akos Med Clinic. Now, he is a senior machine learning engineer at the medtech startup working with a new class of ASU graduate student interns. Photo by Erika Gronek/ASU

Grad student interns help develop cutting-edge technology

Chaitanya Prakash Potaraju graduated with a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the Fulton Schools and now works full time as a senior computer vision software engineer at AdviNOW.

As a graduate student, Potaraju used computer vision to study symmetry in body movements under Pavan Turaga, an associate professor working jointly in the Fulton Schools and ASU’s School of Arts, Media and Engineering.

Potaraju brought those interdisciplinary skills to AdviNOW Medical’s computer vision team during the three months of his internship. He worked to develop the algorithms for the augmented reality technology that guides patients to use a medical instrument to take pictures inside their ears.

Now, with the help of a new class of ASU interns, Potaraju continues to enhance the AdviNOW Medical’s computer vision capabilities.

AdviNOW Medical’s Product Director Tarek Saleh earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and software engineering from the Fulton Schools and a master’s degree in biomedical informatics from ASU's College of Health Solutions.

Saleh acknowledges that his education was essential in laying the groundwork to specialize in health care technology and software. He notes the value in the practical experience students gain as interns.

“I never had an internship during my degree programs, but if I had the opportunity, I think it would have added a lot to my experience,” he said.

Today, Saleh works closely with his alma mater, giving seminars to current students and helping them get jobs and internships at AdviNOW.

“The more I can help students,” Saleh said, “I’m also helping the company. It’s a two-way benefit.”

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