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Chat-bots for Healthcare

Published on November 14, 2017

Krishna Bhavsar Following 20 0 3 Author, Speaker, Architect and Leader in Data Sciences 2
Krishna Bhavsar
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8/23/2018

(8) Chat-bots for Healthcare | LinkedIn

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Chat-bot is an attempt at creating a program which converses in text or visual/audio

to mimic human behavior to the best extent possible. Essentially Chat-bots gives the user, a human-like conversational experience through a computer program, without any human intervention.

Healthcare is an industry which has always been resource strained since the stone age. Innovative automation, if any to help the physicians, hospitals and medical centers is probably long overdue.

For one of our clients at Synerzip, we had one such experience to work on a Chat-bot

Virtual Medical Assistant

Every time a patient wanted to visit a physician, he must take advance appointment and in case the medical center is running busy, which is almost always the case in most parts of the world, he/she must wait for their turn to see the doctor. The real pain point is that sometimes, this wait is over days or weeks. A fair but somewhat nonsensical first-come- first-serve policy is followed almost everywhere.

Now, what about the case of chronic disease patients e.g. Diabetes, Heart diseases, Respiratory diseases, who might need immediate help? They need continuous care and monitoring on a regular basis, but they might not need to stay admitted in the hospital. They need to come for regular check-ups (quarterly/monthly and at times daily) and utilize the precious commodity “Physician’s Time”. At times this is important and could save lives… but at times it could be wasted as it’s just a repetitive drill. Hence, when scheduling appointments, the hospital staff is in a dilemma as they have two options:

A.

Prioritize the chronic disease patients and make the general queue of patients suffer or MessagingMessagingMessagingMessagingMessagingMessagingMessagingMessaging

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B. Highly risk chronic patients by treating everyone the same.

Is there any way, by which we could provide the hospital administration an informed way to make this decision?

Virtual Medical Assistant (VMA) is the way to go! The VMA is an empathetically enabled avatar that will reside on a Smart Phone or a Tablet App. It is capable of a human-like dialogue exchange with the patients (Audio/Visual) and develops a relationship with them while it is gathering data about the patient’s current health condition.

When attending to a patient, the Doctor usually asks a prescribed list of questions, follows a

prescribed list of procedures/tests and use their emotional quotient to judge how the is doing at that precise moment in time.

Technology Stack

Using the following advancements in technology, an emotionally enabled virtual assistant can do the job:

1. Chat-bot as the conversation engine (api.ai, wit.ai etc.)

2. TTS (Text-To-Speech) and ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition) for communicating with the patient (Nuance, Alexa, Cortana, Siri etc.)

3. NLP (Natural Language Processing) to understand and respond to patient questions and statements (GATE, StanfordNLP, OpenNLP etc.,)

4. IoT (Internet Of Things) connected medical devices to monitor the specifics of a patient

condition (AnSYS and others)

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5. Using a smart device camera for Emotion Recognition to capture the facial expressions of the patient (Affectica, Crowdsight etc.,).

As this data is collected and transferred to the hospital database, simple aggregations and

rules on data points can show where the red flags lie. Accordingly the hospitals can

the muster for Physician’s appointments. This will not only help in Appointment Scheduling but also in creating digital records intuitively with self-help for future references or further data analytics applications.=

Architecture

Here is what a typical VMA system looks like when deployed:

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The entire backend is envisioned to be deployed on cloud as Microservices. The backend has two major external interfaces: first, with the patient device and second, with the hospital administration team/software.

The system is specifically designed enabling devices like ASR and TTS to give a real-time solid experience to the patients/users.

Advantages

Summing up some of the advantages of the VMA’s for the hospital industry:

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1. Informed Appointment Scheduling, prioritizing appointments for those who need it the most

2. Saving Hospital Resources - Patient fills up his own digital record, without the hospital staff needing to intervene

3. Saved Patient History - The history of patients is maintained in an orderly fashion without missing any samples. Unavailability of physician, unavailability of patient, travel restrictions are some factors that result in missing sample collections

4. Ready Database - Data generated can be used for further data analytics tasks, patient risk prediction, patient response to medicines, hospital resource planning

5. A virtual assistant furnished with small-talk capabilities and general disease information can be used for patient awareness and prohibitive healthcare.

Conclusion

The idea of Virtual Medical Assistants is to provide help and guidance to the patients affected with chronic diseases. The VMA can take the patients’ health parameters and looking at those, convince them to either visit the hospital or see the physician only when required. The VMA would also instill confidence in the patients and empower them to manage their own condition independently, without compromising on the quality of care. And last but most important use of VMA is that it can provide timely and effective healthcare to those who find it difficult to reach the hospital either due to poor health, geographical or economical barriers.

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