OpenAI Startup Fund and Thrive Global launch new AI company

OpenAI Startup Fund, the US-based fund of AI research organisation OpenAI has collaborated with US-based behaviour change technology company Thrive Global to create a new company building an AI health coach.

The new company, dubbed, Thrive AI Health plans to use AI to democratise access to expert-level coaching to improve health outcomes and address growing health inequities by bringing the power of behaviour change to the urgent challenge of chronic diseases. 

The company will be funded by the OpenAI Startup Fund and Thrive Global as lead investors. The Alice L. Walton Foundation is a strategic investor in the new company.

Sam Altman, OpenAI's CEO, and Arianna Huffington, Founder and CEO, wrote in an op-ed in TIME: "So much of the conversation around AI has been about how much time it will save us and how productive it will make us. But AI could go well beyond efficiency and optimisation to something much more fundamental; improving both our health spans and our lifespans.

"Because health is also what happens between doctor visits. In the same way the New Deal built out physical infrastructure to transform the country, AI will serve as part of the critical infrastructure of a much more effective health care system that supports everyday people's health in an ongoing way. These are some of the ideas behind Thrive AI Health."

DeCarlos Love will be CEO of the new company. He was previously a product leader at Google where he led sensors, AI & ML algorithms as well as health and fitness experiences across all devices and platforms, including Fitbit by Google Fitness.

Thrive AI Health will use the power of generative AI to hyper-personalise and scale behaviour change across the five key and interconnected daily behaviours that govern our health: sleep, food, fitness, stress management and connection. Given that behavior accounts for a significant share of health outcomes than medical care or our genes, by adopting healthier habits in these five behaviors, people can make dramatic improvements in health outcomes.

The Thrive AI Health Coach will be used for both prevention and optimising the treatment of disease through an AI personal context engine that understands the user and generates personalised AI-driven insights; proactive, multimodal, expert-level coaching as well as nudges and recommendations unique to each user across the five behaviours.

They will all be powered by a unified health data platform with robust privacy and security guardrails to deliver a transformative health experience. The Thrive AI Health Coach will be trained on the latest peer-reviewed science, biometric, lab and other medical data, as well as users' personal preferences and goals around the five key daily behaviours. 

The new company will leverage resources from OpenAI and Thrive Global, including Thrive Global's behaviour change methodology, Microsteps and content library. Thrive AI Health will also take advantage of the latest developments in AI, including enhanced long-term memory capabilities and a custom-developed behavioural coaching model with domain-specific customisation, to empower individuals to take action across these five daily behaviours and improve health outcomes.

Love said: "Thrive AI Health Coach is the product to solve the limitations of current AI and LLM-based solutions by providing personalised, proactive, and data-driven coaching across the five daily behaviours. This is how it will improve health outcomes, reduce healthcare costs and significantly impact chronic diseases worldwide."

The aim for the AI Health Coach is to finally reduce the trendlines on chronic diseases, which are skyrocketing around the world. In the U.S. alone, around 90% of our $4.1 trillion in healthcare spending — 17% of GDP, up from 5% in 1960 — is for the treatment of chronic and mental health conditions. A staggering 129 million Americans have at least one chronic condition, and in 2023, eight chronic conditions, including cardiovascular diseases, depression and diabetes, hit all-time highs. The status quo is unsustainable — a challenge that AI-driven hyper-personalized coaching is uniquely positioned to address.

Given that chronic diseases — like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases — are directly related to daily behaviours but not distributed equally across demographics, the Thrive AI Health Coach will leverage the power of AI to reach underserved communities. Gbenga Ogedegbe, Professor of Population Health & Medicine and Director, NYU Langone's Institute for Excellence in Health Equity, will serve as Health Equity Advisor to Thrive AI Health. 

Thrive AI Health has established research partnerships with academic institutions and medical centres which will include bringing the AI Health Coach to their communities. Stanford Medicine, the Alice L. Walton School of Medicine and the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute at West Virginia University are launch partners.

"Working together with Stanford Medicine and Thrive AI Health, we are excited to engage our faculty and future physicians to explore the use of AI Health Coach in ways that reflect our whole health approach," said Sharmila Makhija, Founding Dean and CEO of the Alice L. Walton School of Medicine. "We strongly believe AI will positively change the future of health care, from medical education to clinical care, and we are committed to leveraging this technology to its full potential."