TechVoice AI

What Is a Medical Chatbot?

By March 4, 2020April 27th, 2020No Comments

Healthcare chatbots offer a personalized approach to every user; in ways that can be more  convenient, and efficient that they surpass human capabilities. Let’s take a look at the top health chatbots that are redefining interactive healthcare and how you can use artificial intelligence for your medical business operations. 

Table of contents:

What Is a Medical Chatbot and How Does It Work?

How Medical Chatbots Can Improve Healthcare Services

Top 10 Medical Bots for 2020

How to Build a Medical Chatbot with Alan

What Is a Medical Chatbot and How Does It Work? 

A chatbot is a piece of software that conducts a conversation with users via auditory or textual methods. A medical chatbot facilitates the job of a healthcare provider and helps improve their performance by interacting with users in a human-like way. 

There are countless cases where intelligent medical chatbots could help physicians, nurses, therapists, patients, or their families. They can step in and minimize the amount of time they spend on tasks like:

  • providing health-related information to users
  • guidance for patient 
  • medication management and dosage
  • connecting people and organizations with first responders
  • FAQ-type queries (contact details, directions, opening hours and service/treatment details)

It’s important to note that despite the fact that chatbots can offer valuable facts and symptoms, they aren’t qualified to give an official diagnosis. The main premise behind these talking or texting smart algorithms is to become the first point of contact before any human involvement is needed.

How Medical Chatbots Can Improve Healthcare Services

All healthcare providers are always willing to help their patients, but the overwhelming workload doesn’t always let them provide the best service. A 21st medical practice can rely on a chatbot to ensure 24/7 availability, answer repetitive questions, or schedule appointments. What else can medical chatbots offer to the industry?

  • Immediate access to care – A chatbot quickly connects you with the right specialist and alerts the care teams of urgent changes in patients and emergencies. 
  • Health monitoring and additional information – Patients need more than urgent medical attention. So, ongoing, post-discharge care can be virtually assisted by a bot. 
  • Easy-to-use for doctors and patients – Conversational interfaces are very accessible and don’t have the complexities and learning curve typically associated with new technology.
  • Scalability – With technology, healthcare companies can deliver customer service without requiring additional resources (like human staff). 
  • Convenient for a mobile-first consumer base – Mobile phones are one of the preferred methods of communication with brands, especially for certain demographics. Medical institutes can cater to that audience. 
  • Improved patient satisfaction – These applications help overcome staff shortages with robotic assistance. No issue will be left unattended. 

Concerns about Medical Chatbots

Meanwhile, there are three important points you want to address and reassure your future users about:

  • Effectiveness – Make sure you can deliver a useful healthcare service or product and not a database overloaded with hundreds of ads and pop-up windows. 
  • User privacy – Build a service that can withstand system errors and cyber-attacks. Plus, inform your users of the exact measures you’re taking to protect their personal data.
  • Trustworthiness – Online health services have gained a bad reputation after people started googling their symptoms and receiving terrifying diagnosis. So, you will need to prove your medical expertise.

Top 10 Medical Bots for 2020

In the recent past, health chatbots have been on the rise. As we see more bots emerging with incredible speed, we decided to take a closer look. We’ve gathered some of the industry leaders to get a general idea of where the health chatbot industry is heading.

OneRemission

OneRemission is an oncology application augmented with a chatbot for those battling the disease and their loved ones. Cancer patients and survivors can access information on diets, lifestyle recommendations, stress management practices, etc. Family and caregivers can learn how they should behave and process their feelings. 

The app is put together by licensed professionals and acts as an occasional substitute for a doctor’s visit. There is also a feature that connects you with an online oncologist, who is available at any time.

Youper

This application is aimed at monitoring and improving users’ emotional health. Youper’s AI combines mental health research and user data to match the right psychological techniques with users. To get a sense of what a user is going through, the app asks them how they are feeling from a menu of descriptive words. They can rate that emotion from “slightly” to “extremely.”

It also offers personalized meditations, mindfulness exercises, and journaling prompts. Overall, the app developers wanted to promote mental health awareness and encourage more people to seek professional help. 

SafeDrugBot

SafeDrugBot is a service providing assistant-like support to health professionals in a specific area of pharmaceuticals. It informs doctors about the safe use of drugs for women who are breastfeeding. It searches a vast database and provides active ingredients, brand names, and anything else a doctor might find useful. The final decision is still made by a human, but the chatbot helps them arrive at safe outcomes.

Florence

Florence works on Facebook Messenger, Skype or Kik to send reminders to take medications, track health information, such as weight and mood over time, and show users where health services are. Essentially, it is a personal nurse that is always there.

For example, you can just write the name of the medicine and when you need to take it. Then, you will automatically receive messages every time you need to take a pill. Obviously, it has other capabilities, but this one seems to be the most widely used. 

Your.MD

Your.MD is a symptom database powered by artificial intelligence. It advertises itself as pre-primary care guidance, or a self-diagnosis tool, and contains actionable health information verified by professionals.

For example, you can list nausea and a headache as your symptoms, the app will ask you follow-up questions like whether you also experience sensitivity to light, fatigue, dizziness, etc. In the end, it might conclude that you have a migraine and forward you to the doctors’office, a pharmacy, or test centers.

 Ada Health

Ada Health is another example of a database giving somewhat accurate recommendations based on symptoms shown or mentioned by the patient. It was launched in East Africa, the aim is to improve the availability and delivery of primary care in underserved populations. It strives to help healthcare providers who are overwhelmed with a significant number of patients with minimal resources.

 Babylon Health

Babylon Health is a subscription-based medical consultation and healthcare service. Similar to other bots on this list, it processes symptoms that you input via text or speech and makes an educated guess on the appropriate course of action. It uses the patient’s medical history and general information as the basis for the recommendation.

Additionally, it offers a live video consultation with a real doctor when needed. Doctors can even prescribe medication after a video appointment.  

Sensely

Sensely’s algorithm matches a patient’s symptoms to an illness. It also connects with Bluetooth-enabled health devices, such as blood pressure monitors and scales, which is quite a unique feature. 

Sensely can suggest whether self-care will be enough or the patient should turn to a doctor. If it’s the first scenario, it will also provide rich resources for self-care. If it’s a more urgent case, it uses the color triage system to identify the level of emergency.

Buoy Health

Buoy Health is thought to be developed by a team of doctors and computer scientists through the Harvard Innovation Laboratory. It mostly uses a repository filled with medical papers referenced by physicians. Examples of data include five million patients. Before getting started, the application asks general questions from a transcript and then proceeds to ask more specific ones. 

 Infermedica

Infermedica is a symptom checker that has already conducted millions of diagnostic interviews with real-life patients. The tool can determine who can stay home, who qualifies for teleconsultation, who should see a doctor, or who needs urgent medical care. It also comes with an Electronic Health Record (EHR) integration. 

 How to Build a Medical Chatbot with Alan

There are many factors that influence how a medical bot will turn out. However, building bots with Alan are straightforward and broken down into stages.

1. Discovery Phase

You want to define the project purpose and value as it will guide the technologies and development strategies you use. To start with, focus on the following questions:

  • Does your company qualify as a small to medium business or large enterprise? 
  • How much human engagement do you want to include in your chatbot’s work?
  • What processes should you automate?
  • What kind of users and how many of them are you expecting?

Despite the seeming simplicity of these questions, you should really take your time to analyze them. During this phase, you’ll learn about your business, as well as your wants and needs from a chatbot.

2. Prototype and Evaluation Phase 

You can choose to build a custom solution or the one on top of a bot-platform. Generally, going with an existing platform is a better choice; the process gets done faster, support and maintenance are covered, and you can still customize it.

Now, you need to address the functional units of your future bot, which include:

  • Conversational Flow
  • Natural Language Processing
  • Control Panel
  • Interaction Channels
  • Integration
  • Backend

Test the functionality of the prototype and outline adjustments if necessary. Because of adding changes early on, you reduce the costs associated with post-release software implementations.

3. Chatbot Release and Continuous Training

Once you are certain about the functionality and all the details, you launch the bot into the market. However, the distinguishing factor of AI-powered chatbots is that they learn from the data submitted by end-users continuously. With time, it will be able to respond to more detailed queries, produce more accurate results, and, in general, grow in intelligence.

Essential Help for Both Doctors and Patients 

Medical advances have got to the point when we can treat a wider number of diseases, there are new diagnostic and treatment methods emerging, pharmacology produces an increasingly higher number of drugs for different diseases, ages, body types, etc. 

This creates a huge amount of reference information that doctors must either know or be able to remember, which requires many years of practice and continuous learning. At the very least, they need easy access to that information. Here is what the AI-powered chatbots by Alan aim to do. As for patients, chatbots help them to make decisions about whether they should see a specialist and if so, which one, provides answers to basic questions and reminds them to take their medication.

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