Rise of Conversational AI in Healthcare

by February 16, 2023 0 comments

The progressive evolution of technology has spawned creative new approaches to artificial intelligence (AI). Of the many other sectors, these developments have had a significant impact on the healthcare sector also, especially during the pandemic. Several AI systems have been improved to ensure the best healthcare outcomes in all possible circumstances.

Conversational AI is making a compelling case for the much-stressed healthcare sector, considering people may have a patient-centric, interactive, and intuitive approach. Artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) technologies help to develop solutions that enable human-like interactions between patients, healthcare providers, and other stakeholders in the healthcare industry. Virtual assistants, voice-activated devices, or chatbots can help automatically comprehend and interact with users while providing them with solutions.

Increasing use of Conversational AI

Several factors have contributed actively to the growth of the use of Conversational AI in different industries and sectors.

Advancement of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML)

Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML) are the two significant technologies in the development of Conversational AI to automate user interaction. Today, most NLP solutions are based on deep learning models implemented using neural network architectures. More recently, transformer architectures with self-attention mechanisms have become the state of the art. With the capability of answering common questions faster, chatbot interactions have the ability to exceed 2.8 billion annually by 2023.

The increasing usage of messaging platforms as a primary means of communication

This development has led to a boost in the use of chatbots or virtual assistants. Patients, especially now, consider virtual engagement for their health concerns a necessity. Therefore, using different messaging channels like WhatsApp, Telegram, or the hospital’s website/application has witnessed a rising popularity amongst the masses.

The availability of large datasets and the subsequent development of more advanced NLP techniques

The accessibility to large datasets and advancement in NLP techniques have successfully enabled chatbots or virtual assistants to have the ability to comprehend better and respond to an extensive scope of human language. Specific pre-trained models such as GPT-3 have further improved the conversational AI models for specific tasks, reducing the time and resources required to develop a new chatbot.

An interactive experience demonstrated by ChatGPT has brought in a new way to think about engaging with AI

ChatGPT has created a space for an interactive experience for users in a wide range of cases across different fields of marketing, automated customer support, and user experiences. The ability of ChatGPT to generate text that cannot be distinguished from the human language/text further allows it to take over for customer service and generative creative content. Moreover, ChatGPT can generate code and help in language translation, making it a versatile technology that can be applied in different domains, including natural language understanding, and automated and creative writing.

Benefits of using conversational AI in healthcare

Conversational AI-based solutions provide several benefits in the healthcare industry for practitioners as well as for patients. A few of them are as follows.

Lesser time for action

With the dataset already available in the system, it takes lesser time for chatbots and virtual assistants to resolve the issues of the patients/users. Hence, the 24/7 availability and action via several different channels make it highly beneficial during any patient emergency.

A more personalized experience

Regarding the past treatment plans of the patients, AI chatbots can help provide faster medical suggestions and more personalized experiences. The advancement in NLP engines further helps chatbots provide prompt and appropriate medical advice for the patient, ultimately leading to the confidence of the patients in the technology.

Acts on a real-time basis

The analysis can be done in real-time on the foundation of the patient/user’s interactions that ultimately help in the responses and decisions of the chatbot. Further, the industry trends and opinions are considered while making any response/decision for the user.

Support provided on a multilingual basis

Conversational AI in healthcare now also helps people by interacting with them in various languages on chat, making it much easier and personalized. This interaction has undoubtedly led to a growth in the popularity of virtual dealing in the healthcare industry.

Application of Conversational AI in Healthcare

Conversational AI in healthcare can transform patient care and help healthcare providers in a multitude of ways. It can transform the patient experience and provide improved outcomes for both providers and consumers.

Engagement with the patients and assistance to them

The regular updates and reminders provided to patients help them become responsible for their own health. Nowadays, conversational AI offers reliable help for patients across the globe through bots designed to represent human-like interaction and subsequently deliver as per the user’s requirement. Enterprises have also started using conversational AI to resolve the 24/7 assistance to users for FAQs or routine tasks. Healthcare providers for information dispersal and customer care automation can leverage conversational AI.

Scheduling of appointments

One of the most basic but significant aspects of using AI in healthcare is scheduling appointments. Patients can often access and interact with the chatbot through a user-friendly messaging interface. It can help them set up appointments per the doctor’s schedule and also assist the staff in keeping track of patient visits and prescriptions for reference in the future. Conversational AI can undoubtedly help in bridging the communication gap between doctors and patients, supporting the latter in their recovery process during post-treatment care.

Symptom Assessment

AI-powered chatbots and voice bots may be used to interact with patients and assess potential infectious risks. Based on the conversation and answers provided, patients can be connected to healthcare personnel remotely. Virtual assistants now have the competence to understand patients’ symptoms and answer their queries accordingly. Learning from past data of the patient can further enhance the capabilities of the solution.

The ethical implication of conversational AI is an important factor that needs to be considered. Like many AI models, large language models are dependent on the data on which it has been trained. Lack of training data and biases in training data can reflect negatively on the model result. When the training data is biased, the model is inevitably biased and it can give you discriminatory results

Conversational artificial intelligence (AI) has significantly raised the bar for service quality by automating laborious operations. Hence, AI is a game-changing factor in the healthcare industry. The novel technology is fostering accessibility and enabling a better experience for healthcare providers and receivers. Nothing can replace the amazing efforts of doctors and other healthcare providers, but advancements in technologies like AI can enable them to focus their energies more effectively and ease their workloads.

Author: Sindhu Ramachandran, Director – Technology, Leader of Center of Excellence (CoE), Artificial Intelligence at Quest Global

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