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How chatbots can help us beat Covid-19

More than a year after the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, we are faced with a new challenge: vaccination is hesitant, and the World Health Organization now lists it as Ten threats To global health. From the United States to Africa, despite clear evidence that they are safe and effective, there are still a large number of disturbing people who refuse to accept these life-saving shots.

With regulatory agencies now weighing the benefits of vaccination against reports of rare side effects, effective public health communication has never been more important. In order to continue to advance our global vaccination work, and to promote the realization of herd immunity in the United States and other parts of the world, we urgently need smart and effective methods to depoliticize the vaccination process, combat false rumors, and provide people with the reliability they need. information. Fortunately, new tools are emerging that are expected to achieve this goal: chat bots.

It may sound strange to say that digital tools can succeed where public health officials and politicians are struggling, but the reality is that conversational artificial intelligence tools such as chatbots are already playing an increasingly important role in our healthcare system. effect. More and more medical institutions are now using chatbots to help patients schedule appointments, check symptoms, or handle health insurance queries. The pandemic has driven the adoption of AI tools, and since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the use of some medical chatbot providers has tripled as patients have turned to telemedicine and other digital tools to obtain the round-the-clock support they need.

Chatbots are also increasingly used as part of COVID-19 response strategies.Officials in New York are already using Google’s artificial intelligence chatbot to handle Up to a quarter COVID-19 inquiries to help residents arrange their own vaccination and free up manpower to deal with more difficult inquiriesFurther afield in Kazakhstan, only a quarter of people said they would be vaccinated against COVID-19, and aid agencies are working Use chatbot Eliminate myths circulating on social media and help people get more accurate information.

Is such an intervention effective? The jury has not yet come out, but the early signs seem promising.One Recent preprint research It was found that after a few minutes of interacting with the chatbot, the number of people holding a positive view of the Covid-19 vaccine increased by 37%, while the number of people who refused to get the vaccine dropped by 20%.Although patients are generally cautious about using chatbots at first, research shows Of which 73% In the end, they found these tools helpful.

Of course, chatbots have their limitations.according to A recent survey, 76% of doctors said that chatbots cannot meet all the needs of patients, and 70% worry that increasing reliance on chatbots may make patients feel isolated and isolated from their human care team. The reality is that many medical decisions involve value judgment, compassion, and wisdom from years of experience, rather than the application of strict rules. Medicine is a science, but it also relies on human insight that algorithms cannot replace.

But in some areas—possibly including vaccine education—medical chatbots are becoming powerful tools. Already three-quarters of doctors say that chatbots are valuable in helping patients schedule appointments, get medication reminders, or find clinics and healthcare facilities in their area. Many people also pointed out that chatbots can provide medication information and instructions, or help with insurance-related inquiries.

What chatbots are really good at is providing reliable content quickly in response to the actual needs, questions, or concerns of the recipients. This allows artificial intelligence tools to build effective bridges between life science companies such as vaccine manufacturers and regulatory agencies, public health officials, healthcare providers, and patients. The result: clear information from reliable sources is provided to those who need it most on demand.

There is also a convenience factor that cannot be ignored in chatbots. Most of the information provided by chatbots can usually be found elsewhere-on the CDC website, user manuals, or manufacturer’s educational brochures, etc. However, it’s one thing to find a document and find the information you need in it, and it’s another to simply ask a question and get an answer.

Artificial intelligence tools can be seamlessly integrated into the workflow of busy healthcare providers, putting the accurate and up-to-date information they need at their fingertips when they need it, and enabling them to provide better patient care . They can also integrate into the patient experience, enabling non-medical personnel to perform fact-checks on what they hear in cable news or read on Twitter, and find the accurate information they need based on their own conditions.

Chatbots cannot handle every query or solve all problems, but they can reduce the pressure on human clinicians, receptionists, and call center staff, allowing them to free up more time to treat patients or deal with complex issues that require human judgment and attention . Since everyone is currently overworked and stressed, chatbots can help reduce stress and enable life science and healthcare workers to do their jobs better. This makes it easier for us to reassure people who have doubts about vaccination, quickly and effectively refute rumors and misinformation, and ultimately ensure that people can make informed and informed decisions about vaccination.

We urgently need a clear and effective way to communicate about Covid-19 to overcome vaccine hesitation and accelerate our herd immunity journey. We have used chatbots throughout the healthcare system to remind patients to take medication, push them to adhere to diet and exercise plans, assist in blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar interventions, and manage mental health. It’s time to use the chatbot revolution to help advance our Covid-19 vaccination efforts.

Photo: Anyaberkut, Getty Images

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