Chatbot based Tele-Medicine: The Need of the Hour

Chatbot based Tele-Medicine - The Need of the Hour.
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According to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, population of India in 2019 was 1,366 million. A rise can be expected as we are nearing the end of the first score of twenty-first century.

According to the government of India, there is one doctor for 1,457 citizens in the country, which is lower than the World Health Organisation norm of 1:1000.

The statistics clearly state that India has a dearth of healthcare professionals. However, we are quickly adapting to and adopting new ways of healthtech industry to minimise this difference.

Chatbot based tele-consultation is one such means which helps health care professionals to reach out to maximum citizens at one time, something that is not humanly possible.

What is a chatbot and how does it work?

Chatbots are software applications that use artificial intelligence and natural language processing to understand what a human wants, and guides them to their desired outcome with as little work for the end user as possible. Chatbots are like a virtual assistant for your customer experience touch points.

The adoption of chatbots was accelerated in 2016 when Facebook opened up its developer platform and showed the world what is possible with chatbots through their Messenger app. Google also got in the game soon after with Google Assistant.

Since then there have been a tremendous amount of chatbot apps built on websites, in applications, on social media, for customer support, and countless other examples.

When talking about healthcare industry, the possibilities for chatbots growth look promising. As health services become patient-centric, offering personalised and satisfactory experience is of utmost priority for healthcare providers. Chatbots allow the professionals to fulfil their services in a quick and efficient way.

Apart from improving the patient experience, chatbots also offer hospitals and clinics new opportunities to improve the patient engagement process and operational efficiency by reducing the typical cost of customer service.

Chatbots basically work on two core areas:

1. User request analysis

User request analysis is the first action that the chatbot takes. It analyses the request of the user, its intent and then extracts relevant entities. If a chatbot is unable to understand the user’s request or extract the required information then the response given to the user is inaccurate.

2. Returning the response

Returning of response is the second core step that the chatbot performs. Once the request has been correctly identified the bot may respond in the form of a generic, predefined text or a text retrieved from a knowledge base having different answers.

Whatsapp based healthcare chatbot

Benefits of Healthcare Chatbots

Chatbots are being used by different sectors in healthcare. Be it Ayurveda or renowned allopathic hospital chains, almost everyone is shifting towards chatbot based tele-medicine.

Healthcare Chatbots have numerous advantages. They can:

  1. Provide a 24×7 virtual assistance to the patient
  2. Pre-acquire the patient’s case history and other details to save doctor’s time
  3. Answer redundant queries of the patient and hence save time
  4. Reduce load on the manpower by digitally recording the details of the patient
  5. Provide a differential diagnosis in cases wherever possible
  6. Make the patient comfortable to discuss the query over text than call
  7. Increase patient inflow in specialities such as dermatology or sexology where patients are conscious to talk face-to-face
  8. Overcome the dearth of manpower especially in times of COVID-19
  9. Be used for tele-health and public awareness
  10. Interact with multiple patients at one time and improve patient experience
  11. Chat with patients in their regional language
  12. Help in personal branding of the hospital/clinic
  13. Implicit lead capture via apps like WhatsApp
Multilingual healthcare Chatbot

As of July, 2019 there are 400 million active users of WhatsApp in India, alone. With time we can expect the numbers to rise. Thus, a chatbot that is available on WhatsApp is highly beneficial.

Apart from there being no need to install an additional app, it is convenient for the patient to communicate with the clinic/hospital over WhatsApp. Patient can directly share the number and help in increasing brand awareness of the hospital/clinic.

WhatsApp has tied up with the World Health Organisation to make a chatbot service that answers users’ questions on COVID-19.

whatsapp based healthcare chatbot

The Indian Government recently launched a chatbot called MyGov Corona Helpdesk, that works through WhatsApp and helps people access information about the COVID-19 pandemic. It is evident that in recent times, WhatsApp has become an integral part of the healhcare chatbot industry.

Types of Chatbots

There are two types of chatbots available:

A. Rule-based

Where the chatbot tries to map user input to a set of pre-defined intents, designers for a limited scope and specific context with hand crafted rules. This type is rigid but doesn’t make grammatical errors.

B. AI-based

Where the bot can understand human questions formulated in a natural language and answer like a real person. This type adapts better to surprising demands and questions.

According to Global Market Insights report 2018, rule-based chatbots market share in 2107 was 85%, but has been predicted that AI-based will quickly catch up to reach 53% by 2024.

Chatbots in Healthcare Sector

With the growing population, there is a need to have an appropriate number of health professionals. In order to achieve a proper doctor-patient ratio, we need to adapt to chatbot based tele-medicine. This paradigm shift is happening slowly but will eventually have a permanent place in the field of health care.

A mixed-methods study showed that 80% people were curious about new technologies that could improve their health, 66% reported only seeking a doctor when experiencing a health problem and 65% thought that a chatbot was a good idea.

Chatbot based tele- medicine is beneficial not only to the doctors and hospitals but patients as well. Patients can book appointments, buy medicines and seek lab reports, all by using a single chatbot. They can even get real time status updates of their appointments via the healthcare chatbot app. They can make use of the 24×7 virtual assistance and can save time by not waiting in long queues to get their queries answered.

An Ideal Chatbot

As rightly said by a French socialist politician, Leon Blum, ‘you cannot seek for the ideal, outside the realm of reality’, it is important to strive for the following features while choosing a chatbot solution.

An ideal chatbot should be:

  1. Easy to operate and understand
  2. Intelligent to cater to the user’s requests and needs
  3. Quick to respond to the user
  4. Accurately provide information to the user
  5. Secured so that the user can trust it with its confidential information

Talking about chatbots in healthcare, they should be able to:

  1. Provide a 24×7 virtual assistance to the patient
  2. Schedule appointments
  3. Answer general patient queries related to doctors or hospital
  4. Send status updates and reminders to the patients
  5. Self triage patient’s disease based on the symptoms entered and provide differential diagnosis
  6. Allow customisable templates to cater to different specialities
  7. Interact with the patient in their regional language
  8. Generate digital prescriptions
  9. Provide an option of taking the pharmacy online
  10. Provide security with respect to the sensitive information
 chatbots in healthcare

Prescribe – Our #1 Recommendation for Digital Healthcare Solution

One such chatbot based tele-medicine solution is

With its spectrum of features, Prescribe aims to provide a level of digital adoption to every private practitioner and small – scale clinic in this country.

Prescribe has been trusted by the pioneers in the field of healthcare, time and again. AyurVAID, India’s first NABH accredited Ayurvedic hospital, Kottakkal AVS are just a few of the 50+ hospitals that have chosen Prescribe.

To experience this chatbot based digital healthcare solution, book a live demo, today! – Visit here.

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Dr. Lochan
Dr. Lochan
Dr. Lochan is a dentist who is currently pursuing her masters. She is also a writer, poet and debater. Lochan has won numerous literary awards and strives for artistic excellence. She has head research forums and is constantly looking for innovations in the field of healthcare. Lochan has collaborated with various UN and government of India initiatives for the betterment of the society.

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