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Reimagining Medical Diagnosis with Chatbots

4 minutes, 51 seconds read

Chatbots are rapidly gaining popularity in the healthcare sector. According to research conducted by Grand View Research, the global chatbot market is expected to reach $1.23 billion by 2025 growing at a CAGR of 24.3%. The current COVID pandemic has caused a lot of stress in the healthcare sector, with hospitals getting swamped with COVID-19 patients and also handling regular consults. 

This has made medical chatbots very attractive, helping in scheduling appointments, custom support, symptom checks, providing nutrition and wellness information, mental therapy, etc. Let’s take a look at how chatbots are transforming the digital transformation in the healthcare sector.

The shift to Medical Chatbots and Telemedicine

Lockdowns and social distancing due to COVID-19 gave a significant boost to digital business models. Organizations had to find ways to keep up the operations, make business continuity plans, and engage the workforce working remotely. Even healthcare providers took to technology such as telemedicine, chatbots, and remote monitoring equipment for patients who were not able to visit doctors in person. 

Many hospitals had been trying to implement telemedicine over the last couple of years, at least for ailments that can do without in-person diagnosis and can be cured by prescribing medicines based on symptoms told by the patient. COVID-19 gave that extra push for telemedicine. 

Another tendency that people have these days is to search for information on Google for self-diagnosis. However, that may not be effective. Therefore, many people are turning towards healthcare chatbots for medical information. 

Multilingual AI chatbot with video for diagnostic services – Hitee.chat

The Role of Chatbots in Medical Diagnosis 

The entire experience from admission to discharge is one of the key differentiators for patients while choosing a healthcare provider. People want quicker services and instant answers to their queries. 

With the coronavirus outbreak, hospitals and clinics are facing additional pressure. It has created a dire need for technology such as medical chatbots to provide better patient experience. 

Currently, there are some chatbots that leverage AI and machine learning to provide diagnoses by using algorithms to run the responses through a database of medical literature available. Let’s take a look at possible situations where chatbots play a crucial role in diagnostics-

  • Reliability: Instead of using a search engine to find answers, people will find chatbots more reliable for medical information. They need to be backed by legitimate medical databases to provide better accuracy.
  • Medical History: Chatbots cannot replace the role of a doctor while diagnosing but it can be of great assistance to them in providing medical history to better diagnose the health issue.
  • Triggering Attention: There are many symptom checking apps and bots available today which are widely used to check symptoms for possible diseases. Even with the nearest possible result in hand, it triggers the patient to a doctors’ visit if the symptoms seem grave. 
  • Support for Healthcare Workers: In case of mild diseases such as common cold, indigestion, minor wounds, etc. Chatbots are of great help as they reduce the workload of health workers who can focus on critical patients. 
  • Ensure Confidentiality: In some cases, patients may not be comfortable to open up to a doctor in person, but finds it easier to answer questions by a chatbot. Especially, when it comes to mental illness. 
  • Availability: Although rare, but there can be cases when medical help is not available physically such as during curfews or lockdowns. In such situations chatbots can be of great help for immediate medical support. 

Prevailing Challenges

Chatbots can provide basic medical information or do a cursory diagnosis of a health problem. However, the biggest challenge with diagnostic chatbots is the accuracy of the output. 

Research by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) suggests that computer-based diagnostic support tools can be very beneficial to clinicians. But the effectiveness of 23 symptom checkers reported deficits and only 34% of standard patient evaluations were achieved in the first attempt. 

Unlike actual doctors, chatbots cannot feel the pulse, check the heartbeat or blood pressure, check the body part where the issue is, etc. Patients these days tend to self-diagnose quite often but they may not understand the diagnoses. 

Medical Chatbots can provide the information but can they explain it like a doctor as well? That would be debatable. Not everyone can understand medical jargon. Another issue is the risk of error in diagnosis. Too much dependency on the diagnosis can have steep consequences putting lives at risk. 

Redefining Chatbots in Medical Diagnosis

Currently, the chatbots function primarily through text while chatting with the patient. But in the coming future, it has a huge scope of improvement when combined with videos, images, voice recognition it will provide better information to the chatbot to provide better diagnoses. 

Medical diagnosis chatbot with video – Hitee.chat

Technologies like Natural Language Processing (NLP), machine learning, AI algorithms will enable better processing of the data and help clinicians with quicker diagnosis. It is possible to increase the capability of these chatbots through broader data and technologies. NLP integrated chatbots can also cater to specially-abled patients. 

More usage of diagnostic chatbots will make people take better care of their health. Indeed, there is scope for improvement for chatbots in medical diagnosis. But at the same time, reliability on them is also gradually increasing.

Down the Road

Chatbots in medical diagnosis can act as an aid to clinicians, reduce workload for healthcare workers, provide instant answers, and in some cases, it is a cheaper medium and lesser hassle than to visit a hospital. 

Bots have huge potential to streamline diagnosis. It won’t be a surprise to see chatbots be the first point of contact for medical help. 

We’ve introduced a multilingual AI-powered video chatbot for hospitals, private clinics, and diagnostic services. It can automate appointment bookings, checking symptoms, provide information, answer FAQs and more. You can write to us at hello@mantralabsglobal.com for your specific requirements.

Website: Hitee.chat

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MantraTalks Podcast with Parag Sharma: Delivering Digital-first Health Experiences for Patient Care in the New Normal

6 minutes read

The healthcare industry took the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic from the very beginning. It was, and still is, a humongous task for hospitals to deal with the rising number of COVID patients as well as handling the regular consults. 

To delve deeper into the state of healthcare in the COVID times, we interviewed Parag Sharma, CEO, Mantra Labs Pvt Ltd. Parag shares his insights on how technology can help in delivering digital-first health experiences for patient care in the New Normal.

Parag is a product enthusiast and tinkerer at heart and has been at the forefront of developing innovative products especially in the field of AI. He also holds over ten years of experience working in the services line and has been instrumental in launching several startups in the Internet & Mobile space. His rich domain expertise and innovative leadership have helped Mantra climb to the top 100 innovative InsurTechs in the World – selected by FinTech Global. 

Catch the interview:  

Connect with Parag- LinkedIn

COVID-19 and Its impact on Healthcare Organizations

Considering the COVID situation, according to you how has COVID-19 impacted the IT & service operations among healthcare organizations?

Parag:  Since the onset of COVID-19, the healthcare sector has been deeply impacted. Institutions are facing a serious crunch in manpower. IT support systems which were usually manned and managed by a large team of IT professionals are not available in the same strength. Resource allocation’ is one of the biggest concerns due to physical and mental exhaustion of the healthcare workforce. 

Hospitals are facing issues such as operational disruption due to staff quarantine, supply-chain delays and sudden decline in patient footfalls, difficulty in sustaining fixed costs, etc. People are not comfortable getting out of the safety confinements of their homes due to the rising risk of getting infected with the virus. Hospitals will have to reassess their future strategy and budgets in light of the uncertain economic situation.

Preparing for the Future

What can hospitals do to ensure the continuity of their customer-facing operations in the wake of a second Pandemic wave?

Parag: There are many things that hospitals can do to manage themselves in this hour of crisis. Being more digital than what they are would be one step forward for all of them. They can bring their IT systems to the cloud so that the person can access data and manage their work remotely. They can enable their patients to book appointments and enquire about services through apps and chatbots which won’t require them to call the reception or come to the hospital. These are some of the services which hospitals can provide to their customers with minimum physical contact. 

Related: Manipal Hospital’s move to a self-service healthcare mobile application

Hospitals can extend Telehealth services to their patients. Recently, telehealth has proved to be useful especially when there is asymmetry between the number of patients and healthcare providers. I think it will be very useful for healthcare institutions to deploy telehealth solutions to provide medical facilities to people who have so far been outside the benefits of healthcare.

New Expectations in Health Experiences

Is consumer behavior defined by the ‘new normal’ going to change the way we access healthcare from this point on?

Parag: Yes, people will expect a completely different way to access healthcare services from now on. Hospitals should gear-up and rise to this occasion. The pandemic has also provided a new opportunity to adopt a completely different approach in the way healthcare is delivered. They always felt that medical care cannot be provided remotely but now this is happening and people are appreciating remote healthcare services. Hospitals and healthcare institutions are convinced that telehealth and remote care will be more successful soon.

Technology in Healthcare can Bridge Operational Gaps

What are the operational challenges, as far as digital capabilities go, that hospitals are facing currently? And, what steps must they take to bridge these gaps?

Parag: Operational challenges are not just digital challenges. But a lot of these challenges can be addressed with technology. For example, Electronic Health Records which hospitals manage within the premises can be moved to the cloud so that the person can access these records on the cloud itself and need not come to the hospital. 

Related: Medical Image Management: DICOM Images Sharing Process

Secondly, if you deploy telehealth and telemedicine solutions, irrespective of where your patients are or doctors are, hospitals can deliver the required care to its patients. You can even extend your diagnostics services to your patients by giving them an application through which they can seamlessly book appointments for consults, diagnostics, or pathological services and resolve their queries, etc. Simply by giving a seamless interface either through bots or applications can go a long way in providing better health experiences to the customers.

Role of Chatbots in Superior Customer Experiences

According to you, what role does chatbots powered by Artificial Intelligence have in the Healthcare CX landscape?

Parag: Chatbots are the simplest example of the implementation of AI-based technology in healthcare. There are a lot of things which bots can do simplistically. For example, if a patient wants to book an appointment with the doctors, instead of going through a complex web applications and interfaces, what if I can simply write “I want to book an appointment with the doctor Dr. XYZ at 4 pm” and the bot can figure out in case the time slot is available with that particular doctor, it will confirm the appointment followed by a payment process if the payment has to be made upfront. 

Apart from this, you can extend your bots to provide e-consultations where doctors can do remote consultations via audio and video features of a chatbot. So there is a huge scope for bots beyond answering routine queries by customers or booking appointments. It does not stop just there. You can extend chatbot functionalities to support functions such as admin, HR, finance, and business process efficiency so that they can provide better services to their customers.

Related: Healthcare Chatbots: Innovative, Efficient, and Low-cost Care

Chatbot Use Cases in Healthcare

Could you tell us some possible bot use cases for delivering better customer experiences to digital health users?

Parag: Apart from booking appointments and resolving customer queries, these bots can conduct remote consultations, internal processes, health symptom checker, out-patient video consultation, second opinion consultation, ordering medicines, psychological counseling & mental wellness, scenario-based risk advice, Heroism Recognition for employees, etc. Also, it can be further extended to help patients enquire about health insurance related queries, and all the interactions between insurance companies and hospitals can be provided to the patient. 

Related: Healthcare & Hospitals Use Cases | Digital Health

The Road Ahead

COVID-19 has forced hospitals to revise patient support strategy with limited operational staff that is bringing every day a new challenge. A way out is to heavily rely on digital innovation.

In India we have a disparity between the no. of healthcare providers and care seekers. Without technology, I don’t think there is any way healthcare institutions will be able to scale to a level where they can provide meaningful services to such a large number of people. Hospitals can invest in setting up an information exchange; making the process as seamless as possible; and removing all possible inefficiencies from the supply chain through technology.

Future growth for hospitals will come from digital technology because patients will opt more for digital platforms. And it is up to hospitals to catch up with the pace at which modern technology is developing. We, at Mantra Labs, have achieved several use cases including hospitals/diagnostic centers that are able to deliver superior health experiences.

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