Chatbots: The Next Revolution in Healthcare Industry

May 16, 2022
6 min read

Chatbots or chatterbots are only one example of the many exciting possibilities in the realm of information technology. Chatbots are software applications that facilitate online chat conversations via text or text-to-speech with a human-like addressee that responds instantly to their queries. For example, if a customer wants to know the price of a particular product, and he texts to the chatbot contact centre, it will answer “30 $ or whatever the price of that product”. Or, if you type that you have a complaint regarding the product, it will answer, “Ok, I will look into it”. Chatbots have taken over simple tasks of humans, ranging from automatic internet shopping via sending messages to speech recognition in your car's smartphone. Almost every website has a chat pop-up. And they save time and money by guiding customers to the information they need.

Healthcare retail, news media, social media, banking, and customer service have all embraced chatbots. Chatbots are changing the way we live, from checking sports scores to navigating bank apps to playing conversation-based games on Facebook Messenger. Healthcare players, providers, and medical assistants are all starting to use AI-enabled technologies to improve patient care and cut down on unnecessary spending. Many people use chatbots on their phones every day without even realizing it.

Chatbots in Healthcare

Chatbots have become popular in the healthcare sector. They help in answering general questions like:

-Providing medical consultancy/specific doctor information

-Scheduling medical appointments

-Pulling together patient data

-Handling insurance inquiries

-Requesting prescription restocks and etc.

In short, they answer general repetitive questions while saving the waiting time on the phone.

Chatbots and Covid-19 Information

As the world got stuck in the pandemic, million of callers had to wait for hours online to be heard, and those who were able to connect, found the customer service representatives quite often low-spirited or burnt-out. The hospitals felt the need to start automated customer service chatbots in multiple languages to meet everybody’s needs. And they mostly answered general questions like recognizing the symptoms, providing helpline numbers of the nearest health centres, home maintenance for mild symptoms, self-diagnosis kit etc.

Introducing VIRA

As the pandemic enters its third year, 23% of Americans remain unvaccinated, many have yet to receive a booster, and vaccine misinformation continues to proliferate. The Vaccine Information Resource Assistant (VIRA) is a chatbot developed by researchers at the Bloomberg School of Public Health's International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) to address these challenges. VIRA was created in conjunction between Hopkins vaccine scientists and an Israeli research team at IBM who built Project Debater, an artificial intelligence system designed to debate politics, philosophy, and policy with human champions.

VALUE Baltimore, the Harford and Baltimore County health departments, and Voices on Vax are among the organizations that have used VIRA.

Weeks noted that health departments appreciate the tool because it can address the most pressing issues — a strength and a flaw that runs opposite to Bar-concept Zeev's of individualized public health, as individuals may perceive the service as impersonal.

Other barriers to public response to VIRA, according to Bar-Zeev, are the United States' party division and the universal death of expertise.

IVAC
(PneumoADIP) Pneumococcal Accelerated Development and Introduction Plan, a major Gavi-supported project that started work at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2003, and the Hib Initiative, a Gavi-supported project that began work at the school in 2005, formed the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) and discovered that combining a wide range of abilities on the same challenges allowed for the formation of a learning environment in which complex problems could be efficiently addressed.

The integrated organizational structure of IVAC, which was formed in 2009, is based on this method. Through eight practice areas, IVAC has broadened its scope and now provides global technical leadership on over 15 vaccine-preventable illnesses and syndromes.

IVAC works to increase vaccine knowledge and support so that this promise can be realized for billions of people around the world. Since 2003, they've been a trusted partner for governments, international agencies, research groups, and non-profit organizations working to provide universal access to life-saving vaccines. They are a team with various abilities and research expertise based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Department of International Health.

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's International Vaccine Access Center seeks to make the world a more fair place, free of the negative health, economic, and social repercussions of vaccine-preventable diseases. IVAC increases vaccination access and uptake through rigorous research, information synthesis, global collaboration, advocacy, and education.

IVAC was initially connected to IBM in 2019 by Joo Sedoc, an assistant professor of technology, operations, and statistics at New York University Stern School of Business.

Who Hasn't Been Covid-Jabbed?

Rose Weeks who is one of the Research associates at John Hopkins said, "Managing vaccination information requires social listening." "Knowing where the public stands on facts is crucial to ensuring that the information put out by authorities or public health agencies is speaking to people where they are and addressing their concerns," she added.

Those who have not had the COVID-19 vaccine are more likely to be younger, with roughly two-thirds of those who have not received the vaccine being under the age of 50. In comparison to around three out of ten vaccinated adults, six out of ten identify as Republican or lean Republican. Almost half of the unvaccinated adults have a high school diploma or less (49 percent), with around three out of ten having finished some college (30 percent) and 19 percent having a bachelor's degree.

Adults who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination, on the other hand, are slightly older, with half of them over the age of 50. Four out of every ten persons have a college diploma or more, and they are more likely to identify as Democrats or lean Democratic, with 54 percent identifying as Democrats against 16 percent of unvaccinated adults.

Vaccines contribute to a world free of the health, economic, and social implications of avoidable disease for individuals and society.

The United States seems to have become increasingly political, there was no one, including anti-vaxxers, ready to listen to opposing viewpoints." "In a fragmented and politicized society, the tendency to communicate with an independent source of knowledge has not been considered as important as it could have been," he said. "The technology's core was created with the goal of winning a discussion. "We purposely avoided that technique since our goal is to educate [people], not to persuade or even to prove that we're right." We purposefully avoided that approach since our goal isn't to persuade [people] or even to prove that we're right, but instead to educate them."

Chatbots save money in healthcare, with experts predicting that by 2022, healthcare chatbot savings will total $3.6 billion globally. Furthermore, hospitals and private clinics utilize medical chatbots to triage and clerk patients before they enter the consultation room.

These bots ask essential questions regarding the patient's symptoms and respond with automated responses in order to provide the doctor with accurate history. The doctor receives these patient histories via a messaging system. It tries to figure out which patients demand immediate attention and which merely require a brief consultation.

Conclusion

In an ideal scenario, the future of chatbots in healthcare is determined by how quickly the healthcare industry embraces technology. Artificial intelligence and healthcare are merging to improve the patient and provider experience. For the time being, the goals of a chatbot in healthcare are straightforward, but the potential for them to be used as diagnostic tools and more is evident. They are helpful in decreasing staff workload and overhead expenses, increasing patient services, and giving a 24-hour discussion outlet even at this early stage.

The chatbot's most compelling features are its confidentiality — critical given the stigma associated with being inoculated — and its social listening abilities.

How satisfied are you with a healthcare AI tool discussing your personal health information? Many people would rather communicate with a company via messenger than by phone. As a result, it'll only be a matter of how long before we all resort to chatbots for answers to our health-related inquiries. Artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare is still a novel concept. Moreover, it lacks the empathy of a real human and its (response) reach is restricted to the data it holds. As a result, we cannot get answers for many personal questions and cannot place too much reliance on these technologies when it involves dealing with patients besides limited customer service and other basic obligations.