How Chatbots Are Helping Patients Seek Better Treatment

How Chatbots Are Helping Patients Seek Better Treatment

Healthcare providers are adopting chatbots to provide an accessible and efficient first touchpoint for patients

  • 23 february 2018

A recent trend sees healthcare providers turning to chatbots to provide an accessible first touchpoint their patients. PSFK researchers took a closer look at how these digital assistants use natural language processing tools and conversational interfaces to help people define their symptoms and make educated decisions about seeking treatments.

According to Healthcare IT News, research has found that healthcare providers stand to benefit even more than companies in other industries from the use of AI chatbots, which could save them $8 billion annually worldwide by 2022.

Here are some examples of companies that have been utilizing chatbots for medical purposes:

Digital health company Sensely created a conversational chatbot for users to access in private in order to be directed to the healthcare resource they need. Users are able to engage the virtual assistant Molly with speech recognition, which Molly can respond to with dynamically generated speech. Patients can also send images to Molly, which will then be routed back to the clinical team.

Buoy Health 
Digital health company Buoy is a conversational healthcare chatbot that allows users to share their symptoms and answer questions to determine the options for care. Patients begin by describing their symptoms, how long they have persisted and if they have improved at all. Buoy then analyzes the answers in real time and decides the appropriate next questions. Within two to three minutes it has a detailed understanding of the case and walks the patient through the results. The patient then decides whether they should see a doctor or treat themselves at home.

Search engine company Baidu created a virtual medical chatbot in its Baidu Doctor app, called Melody, that uses deep learning and natural language processing networks to help individuals communicate their symptoms, learn of possible diagnoses and connect to medical experts. Since patients’ initial queries typically do not give enough information for a doctor to make a confident decision, Melody chats with patients in an interactive way by asking additional questions generated by AI, to help them articulate their situation at the necessary level of detail for physicians.

Digital health company Your.MD is a personal health bot assistant that uses artificial intelligence to guide users to the best and most relevant health information. Users can download Your.MD’s mobile app or add the chatbot to platforms such as Facebook Messenger and Slack, in addition to other options. Users then can use voice or chat to ask questions about their symptoms, and Your.MD responds with tailored questions to help diagnose causes, symptoms and treatments with clinically-assured advice. Additionally, Your.MD can recommend health services.

Medical chatbots that are trained to direct patients to relevant services can help take some of the strain off healthcare professionals. As the healthcare industry evolves with these new technologies, costs are cut and efficiency is improved for both patients and medical professionals. For more insights, check out our recent research paper, Reinventing Customer Care with Chatbots.

Lead Image: Woman using phone in bed via Shutterstock

+artificial intelligence
+natural language processing

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