Belong.Life, creator of a global social network for cancer patients, launches AI oncology mentor to support care

Belong.Life, the maker of a social network for cancer patients and caregivers, has launched a conversational AI oncology mentor dubbed Dave. 

Said to be the world’s first, the tool is designed to engage and educate cancer patients on their clinical journey. Dave provides oncology-specific, personalized information instantaneously, the company claims. The goal is to improve the quality of care and life for patients worldwide, executives said in a press release. 

To date, Dave has been tested by more than 10,000 people with cancer. 

"Dave has received tremendous gratitude from users and has been proven valuable by the frequent patient use and the many follow-up interactions," Irad Deutsch, co-founder and chief technology officer of Belong.Life, said in a press release.

Driven by machine learning and natural language processing, Dave was trained on seven years’ worth of data, including patient-provider and peer-to-peer interactions. The data came from Belong’s Beating Cancer Together app, which the company says is the world’s largest social and professional network for cancer patients and caregivers. Dave retains a long-term memory of previous conversations to facilitate continuous communication across chat sessions. 

Belong is also currently developing additional conversational AI mentor and companion platforms for other health conditions and organizations. 

Dave is available for free to patients through Belong’s cancer app, which is also free, where users communicate with other patients and cancer care professionals. Dave is also available as a software-as-a-service solution for hospitals, providers and patient support programs. Its characteristics and fields of expertise can be customized to include in-house clinical guidelines for optimal use. 

"Having personally treated tens of thousands of patients, I can attest to the importance of empathetic and accurate correspondence when treating patients with complex and challenging conditions like cancer,” said Daniel Vorobiof, M.D., chief medical director of Belong.Life and a medical oncologist with more than 40 years of experience. “During Dave's development and validation, we continuously improved the accuracy of the AI mentor to provide users with supportive and accurate information during their journey."

The company has also built an AI system that can predict potential care journeys and outcomes for Belong users. “At the moment, this solution is still in alpha and being tested internally but we are actively exploring ways to make this technology more widely available in the near future,” Deutsch told Fierce Healthcare. “I'm thrilled about the possibilities our innovative team is working on, and I hope to provide regular updates as we continue to refine our offerings.”