[Techie Tuesday] How chatbots have become the game-changer for healthcare industry amidst COVID-19

The healthcare sector is effectively leveraging chatbots to help patients find faster solutions to their requirements, bridging the gap between doctors and patients.
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A chatbot enables a human to have a voice-based or data-based conversation with a machine.

They are quite similar to IVRS (interactive-voice-response-system), except the conversation can be detailed and intense. And, the growth in the messenger culture — WhatsApp, WeChat, Slack, etc. — is driving the adoption of chatbots. 

Chatbots can be rule-based, which means one envisages all possible situations in a conversation and pre-programs the chatbot with a suitable response.

However, if someone asks a question out of the defined situations, the chatbot will be unable to answer it. Intelligent chatbots use AI and become self-learning in nature, and they keep learning new situations and how to respond to them.

Why are chatbots so relevant to the healthcare industry? 

Besides quick-service restaurants (QSR) and hospitality industries, the healthcare sector, too, is effectively leveraging chatbots to help patients find faster solutions to their requirements, bridging the gap between doctors and patients.

Here are some of the advantages of a chatbot:

- Real-time-response: Doctors can be reached only during certain times. Hence, if someone needs an immediate response, a chatbot could help.

- Monitoring: Chatbots can be used to monitor and track patient critical health parameters.

Symptom Checker: By asking some relevant questions, chatbots can assist in understanding the patients’ condition.

- Provide instant information: They can be used to search databases and provide information in real-time in medical emergencies.

- Build rapport with patients and make appointments.

- Scalability: Chatbots are scalable and can interact with several people at the same time.

Examples of interesting healthcare chatbots

Instead of calling your friend at 2 am to have a conversation just because you cannot fall asleep, you can now call a chatbot and have a conversation for as long as you like, or till you fall asleep.

Very interestingly, this chatbot was built by a mattress company to help night owls. This is a great example of how technology evolves the partnership between people and brands.

A COVID-19 Symptom Checker chatbot, launched by a hospital amidst the pandemic, allowed patients to check their symptoms for possible COVOD-19 infection.

Meanwhile, doctors can use a chatbot to get information on drugs, understand their composition, and information about allergies to drugs.

Some chatbots act as a private nurse, reminding the patient about their medications and other daily medical-related routines. Patients can also use the app to find the nearest pharmacy and doctors.

A subscription-based chatbot that allows patients to have a remote consultation with a medical professional. Once patients update their medical history and symptoms, they will be connected to a doctor via a text messaging service and can get an appropriate diagnosis.

Based on a patient’s medical history and symptoms, the app tries to diagnose their medical condition and connects to the relevant medical specialist.

A chatbot specifically designed to provide support to those fighting cancer. The app provides information about diets, exercises, and other post-cancer practices curated by experts so that the patient does not need to run to the doctor each time. The bot also has a facility for online 24/7 consultation with an expert when needed.

Chatbots, with numerous applications, has become a game-changer for the healthcare industry.

Edited by Suman Singh

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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