Chatbots are becoming commonplace in society, and are often used for virtual assistance, marketing, customer support and technical troubleshooting. This technology is emerging in healthcare with many startups in this field which include patient symptom checking and triaging, pre-consultation history taking and even assisting patients with common mental health conditions. The most popular chatbots currently in the market include virtual assistants such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa, and via messaging apps such as Facebook messenger, Whatsapp, WeChat and independent website landing pages.
So what exactly is a chatbot?
A chatbot is software or a combination of software and hardware, enabled by varying levels of artificial intelligence which can conduct a conversation with a human user via auditory or textual approaches. They are designed to simulate as close as possible to human conversational behaviours.
Risks and Limitations
Application in Physiotherapy
There is an increasing number of use cases for physiotherapy and chatbots. As the chatbot technologies improve, this will continue to increase.
There are a number of emerging chatbot solutions that the physiotherapy industry are incorporating for:
As chatbot technologies become more mature and sophisticated, we will likely see more solutions in the market that can provide new value to physiotherapists and their patients. This will most likely begin with a surge of solutions, assisting physiotherapists with administrative burdens through intelligent automation. Artificial intelligence and machine learning powered solutions also have the potential to support physiotherapists with practitioner-patient communications, data collection, clinical decision making, symptom checking, health coaching, and patient triaging. The future is bright as such solutions will enable physiotherapists to focus on more complex work and patient care.
Recently, Amazon in the US announced that its virtual voice assistant Alexa will be HIPAA compliant and conducting pilots in the healthcare space. Via voice recognition, this will enable consumers to do tasks such as making appointments with their doctors, and even access post-discharge instructions from their hospital.
Yes, chatbots are likely to kill menial jobs in the longer term but will likely produce new ones that allow humans to be more productive, creative and ultimately, add more value to the world.
Disclaimer: This text does not serve as medical advice and if you have any questions, seek advice from your doctor.
Blog post written by Barry Nguyen, an experienced sports and musculoskeletal physiotherapist and digital health expert.