- Symptom checker feature embedded in chatbots looks promising for medical diagnosis because they triage patients. It lets a patient know when to visit the emergency room or when a patient needs urgent care.
- Automated appointment bookings via chatbots lessen the administrative burden on the non-medical staff, thereby allowing them to focus on other essential tasks such as billing, insurance reimbursement, claims, and records management.
- Certain pitfalls of using AI-assisted chatbots for medical diagnosis are misinformation and biases based on gender and race. So, it is advisable to consult a doctor and not rely heavily on a chatbot for diagnosis.
The digital age of healthcare hit an all-time high during the Covid-19 pandemic period. Patients have started using numerous technologies such as telemedicine, fitness apps, patient portals, RPM software, and AI-assisted chatbot for medical diagnosis and to consult with an expert. Out of the lot, chatbots have gained popularity in the healthcare sector because it is not only user-friendly, but also have certain capabilities such as automated appointment scheduling, reminders, 24/7 services, and patient education.
In addition, healthcare AI developers can integrate chatbots with telemedicine, RPM, medical websites, NLP, and more such healthcare technology. Chatbots in healthcare can also simplify workflow in hospitals by assisting doctors in their daily routines and reducing their burnout rate. There are several things a chatbot is capable of doing, and this article specifically highlights its contribution to medical diagnosis.
Types of Chatbots for Healthcare
Healthcare software development companies need to determine which type of chatbots are suitable for patients and healthcare providers. Every type of chatbot offers different features and functions, communication types, and abilities. Three key types of chatbots for healthcare are: conversational, informative, and prescriptive.
1. Conversational Chatbots
Conversational chatbots are created to respond to users’ queries after understanding their intention. The level of maturity of a conversational chatbot depends on its development process. A low-grade chatbot may give automated answers to queries without comprehending what the user means.
A high-grade chatbot looks at the conversation from a holistic perspective, deduces meaning, and then answers. For example, GPT-4 in healthcare is programmed to answer prompts accurately and it also takes into account a series of questions one after the other. Additionally, NLP-driven chatbots are helpful to track conversations, manage dialogue, grasp the context and sentiments, and execute seamless conversations.
2. Informative Chatbots
Informative chatbots provide educational content to patients and healthcare providers. Content can be about diseases, symptoms, home remedies for flu, precautions for chronic diseases, etc. Pop-ups are one of the ways to use informative chatbots For instance, if a user is looking for information on a medical site, then a chatbot pop-up appears with information about an ongoing epidemic in the vicinity. Pop-ups can also appear with a link to detailed information about an illness.
3. Prescriptive Chatbots
Along with conversational abilities, these types of chatbots are equipped with features that offer users therapeutic solutions. Natural language processing technology is a key ingredient for developing prescriptive chatbots. The reason for using NLP is that it can comprehend spoken language, sentiments, and cognitive behavior to perfectly decipher what a patient is going through and offer mental support, including diagnostics.
Vital Features Needed for Medical Chatbot Development
1. Appointment Scheduling
AI-powered chatbot for appointment scheduling allows patients to schedule their check-ups at any time and on any device. A chatbot guides patients through the entire booking process, thus enhancing their experience. It also sends appointment confirmations to keep patients updated. Further, the chatbot informs the concerned physician about upcoming bookings.
In addition, automated appointment bookings via chatbots lessen the administrative burden on the non-medical staff, thereby allowing them to focus on other essential tasks such as billing, insurance reimbursement, claims, records management, etc. There may be possibilities of human errors while patient form filling, however, automated bookings minimize these errors.
Adhering to compliance protocols is a crucial requirement during medical chatbot development. One of the vital compliance rules to follow is the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). This act ensures the privacy and security of ePHI (Protected Health Information).
The act mandates Business Associates and Covered Entities to impose physical, administrative, and technical safeguards in areas where health data is stored and exchanged. Since medical chatbots are exposed to patient data, they must be developed with compliance in mind. Violation of HIPAA compliance regulations leads to criminal and penalty charges that may go up to $50 million.
3. Symptom Checker
Symptom checker is a must-have feature for a chatbot for medical diagnosis. This feature allows patients to seek medical and health advice even when a doctor isn’t around or unavailable. Chatbot services can be used 24/7 and on any device, so it is easy for patients to ask a chatbot which disease they might be suffering based on the symptoms.
The use of AI to diagnose diseases is still a debatable topic amongst healthcare providers due to concerns regarding the technology’s accuracy level and biases. However, the future scenario may change with advanced AI-driven chatbots.
Patients with busy schedules can forget doctor appointments, so chatbots are designed to offer gentle reminders about upcoming appointments. Physicians can also use this feature to remind themselves about their forthcoming routine and plan their week accordingly. Reminders prevent no-shows and ensure cancellations in advance.
5. Live Chat
Patients have the liberty to converse with the bot in real-time and not wait for an answer to pop up. Chatbots like the ChatGPT are designed to provide answers quickly and in real-time. In a live chat, the bot analyzes the question holistically and provides a plausible solution to it.
The medical diagnosis feature allows individuals with non-medical backgrounds to verify their health condition on their own. The accuracy of diagnosis depends on the maturity level of a chatbot. A highly advanced chatbot can grasp the question and provide an accurate answer to it. Providers can also make use of this feature to save time and manage their routine efficiently, however, both patients and providers need to ensure not to rely blindly on technology for medical diagnostic procedures.
Pivotal Role of Chatbots for Medical Diagnosis
First, it was Google who provided solutions for self-diagnosis and now doctors have begun to see patients who are using AI tools for diagnosis.
A study published on the preprint server medRxiv (not yet peer-reviewed) was conducted to check the diagnostic and triage accuracy of the GPT-3 AI model. The study revealed that predictions of the GPT-3 model in every three cases, replied with the right diagnosis for 88 percent of cases. Physicians could do it 96 percent of the time, and people without medical training could do it 54 percent of the time.
Apart from this, the symptom checker feature embedded in chatbots looks promising for medical diagnosis because they triage patients. When a patient describes symptoms of the flu, the symptom checker in the chatbot responds by pointing out a few home and over-the-counter remedies to ride out the flu. Further, symptom checkers let a patient know when to visit a physician, and not the emergency room, thus preventing unnecessary crowding in the ED.
Certain pitfalls of using AI-assisted chatbots for medical diagnosis are misinformation and biases based on gender and race. AI-driven chatbots are trained to recognize certain patterns in the questions asked by users and provide a detailed response to them. Users may get a well-articulated response to their questions. But, how accurate and correct is the response? The homepage of ChatGPT mentions that the bot can sometimes write plausible-sounding, but nonsensical or incorrect answers.
Misinformation can lead to a dangerous situation for users with non-medical backgrounds. So, it is advisable to always consult a doctor and not rely heavily on a chatbot for medical diagnosis.
Chatbots for medical diagnosis may still have a long way to go as far as issues such as biases and misinformation are concerned. Despite the pitfalls, this technology is expected to bring lucrative opportunities for healthcare IT companies and healthcare facilities.
To get the best-in-class healthcare AI solution for your organization, get in touch with Arkenea, a leading healthcare software development company with over 12 years of experience in the field.