Take Healthy.io’s chatbot Emily, for example. It takes people step by step through the process of providing a urine sample at home, then analysing the results using a dipstick and a clever image recognition algorithm on the user’s camera. The results are sent to a doctor who then advises on the best treatment.
The Israeli start-up initially failed to receive approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for its app and testing kit, but not because there was anything wrong with the algorithm or the science.
It was because the user interface – the instructions – were not deemed easy enough to understand, particularly for older users. The creation of Emily – a friendly, no-nonsense female chatbot – was key to winning regulatory approval, the start-up says.
Now people can test for a range of conditions, from urinary tract infection to diabetes, without having to waste time queuing at a clinic or suffering embarrassment. Healthy.io hopes the service will safe health services millions.
Chatbots are cropping up everywhere in healthcare, and Intelligent Mobile is at the forefront of this, assisting medical pioneers with initiatives related to pregnancy, autism and a healthier lifestyle.
Digital doctors, such as Babylon Health, Your.MD, and Ada Health are acting like triage nurses, assessing your symptoms and monitoring your health over the long-term to provide predictive and proactive care.
They can also have a valuable role in simply reminding patients to take their medications. Patients who fail to complete a drug course are a cause of huge inefficiency in most health systems.