Kiwi’s and Aussies have joined forces to take on a global problem.

Tech startup has secured funding from well-known New Zealand entrepreneur, product strategist and angel investor Garth Sutherland to build a better model for cardiac support using AI company FaceMe's digital human platform. These digital human cardiac coaches will revolutionise the way in which cardiac patients and their family’s access and understand cardiac health information. 

The Digital Human Cardiac Coaches (DHCC) will support patient education through natural conversations, reducing the impact of health illiteracy.

“This is the next great advance” says co-founder, Marie Johnson: “We are moving fast, engaging globally to deliver the DHCC to meet the demand for telehealth and augmented health services.”

The company says its minimum viable product (MVP) will be ready by early 2020 – although a demonstration video (which was co-designed with heart patients) can already be watched on partner AI company FaceMe's website.

“We know that the forecast demand is massive,” says Sutherland.  “A recent study identified AI virtual nursing assistants as the second largest AI health care application, representing a $20 billion pa year market by 2026. We encourage providers and organisations who are interested in the Digital Human Cardiac Coach as part of their patient education and telehealth services, to register as soon as possible for the 2020 program."

The death toll from cardiovascular disease is rising 

Each year worldwide, 17.9 million people die due to cardiovascular disease (CVD), now classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation. Almost a third of all deaths in Australia, New Zealand and the US are due to CVD and CVD is the leading cause of death in women. Women, ethnic communities and people with disability in particular are disproportionally under-served by the current rationed system. And yet, the costs are massive. CVD health costs in Australia are a staggering $8.8billion pa – 12% of total health expenditure. In the US, USD$555 billion pa.  Every year.

The challenge around health illiteracy is also rising...

What is not so well understood, is the extent of health illiteracy in populations, and the impact this has on service design; the devastating impact on health outcomes; and the unmeetable costs. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, only 41% of adult Australians had a level of health literacy that would allow them to meet the complex demands of everyday life. In New Zealand, 80% of the male Māori population and 75% Māori women have poor health literacy skills.

And notwithstanding the massive CVD health costs and budgets, the human experience impact of this is that millions of people are unable to understand and apply health information; unable to complete healthcare forms; unable to read and understand brochures, health websites and apps; and unable to understand medication instructions and dosage concepts.  

These are the wicked gatekeepers – illiteracy and innumeracy – further stigmatizing the chronically ill, the disadvantaged and under-served in our communities.  

When the International Society for Vascular Health stated that: 

“We will need to address the health literacy problem in order to make the next great advance in postponing cardiovascular disease.”

...the challenge presented was, how will this ever be achieved, even within a generation?

Meeting the challenge NOW

The Digital Human Cardiac Coach brings this seemingly impossible challenge within reach, NOW. 

Co-founder and CEO Marie Johnson led the Nadia project in Australia – the world’s first AI digital human for service delivery co-designed with people with disability.  And the backstory is a passionate, personal humanitarian literally heart-breaking mission with her aeronautical engineer husband’s journey through the health systems in the US and Australia. 

From his own lived experience, co-founder and heart patient Al Johnson asks “what if we could find a way for people, including people disadvantaged by health illiteracy, to access and understand cardiac health information…and ask simple their own words...without any time?”

Marie believes that “...the quantum leap with the emergence of AI digital humans in health care is a convergence that creates systems that are more like people. Embodied, empathetic human-like interactions that bring back the conversations people so desperately seek.”

Danny Tomsett, CEO of FaceMe, adds: “It’s only when we view AI through the lens of its potential for humanity – that we’ll truly understand its power.”

And the significance of the name “12080”? 120/80 is the gold standard for blood pressure and is emphasised as part of cardiac rehabilitation and education programs.  

Marie will be speaking about the Digital Human Cardiac Coach at the Women Economic Forum (WEF)being held in Perth from 5th– 7thJuly.

Exponential Tech Tuesday: Digital Humans in Health and Care


The 2019 series of Exponential TechTuesday started January 29th with an exciting theme: Digital Humans in Health and Care. Digital Humans are virtual appearances of ourselves or personal assistants, with the face of a real human. The development of these avatars, that can recognize human emotions of a user, is going extremely fast. So fast, that sometimes they seem indistinguishable from real humans… How can these forms of Artificial Intelligence add value to health and healthcare? Introducing the Digital Human Cardiac Coach.

*   Danny Tomsett (Founder and CEO of FaceMe, a Digital Human company)    

*   Piers Smith (Cognitive architect and project lead of Nadia, one of the first Digital Humans, created for and with people with disabilities)    

*   Marie Johnson (Managing Director and Chief Digital Officer of the Centre for Digital Business and co-creator of Nadia with the National Disabilities Insurance Agency)    

*   Mystery speaker X. Will X be virtual… or digital?

In 2016 the Global Network of Healthcare Innovation Centers (GNHIC) was founded, to help adopt emerging technologies in healthcare. Exponential TechTuesday is one of the programs within the GNHIC, with which we explain these new technological developments and tell about their relevance to our colleagues and partners.

“Putting a Face onto AI: Get Ready for the Digital Human Workforce.”

Marie presented at the O’Reilly AI Conference London October 2018.

Watch the presentation: “Putting a Face onto AI: After Nadia, Get Ready for the Digital Human Workforce.”


Are we seeing the 1st Humanitarian Revolution where “workforce” # “work” + “force”? Where the ethics of opportunity will force a shift away from the one size fits nobody. Marie talks about AI, human rights, ethics, digital human cardiac coach, digital human reading coach, and emerging economic and social ecosystems. Democratised access where the gatekeepers of literacy, power and privilege are removed