The way forward
Healthcare chatbots will spread around in many areas of healthcare. In February 2017, Merck announced it will sponsor an open innovation challenge in conjunction with Amazon Web Services and New York-based innovation consultancy Luminary Labs. The goal: a call to entrepreneurs, techies, and industry types to create open solutions for these voice-tech tools to help people with chronic conditions. The first one is diabetes: the so-called Alexa Diabetes Challenge launches in April and will concentrate on type 2 diabetes.
As it is highlighted in the above examples, digital health assistants in the form of chatbots are already able to answer basic questions about health management. In the future, this function will get even better as it will be constantly evaluated and it will learn from its own mistakes. Moreover, not only one chatbot will learn from the given mistake, but the entire fleet of chatbots in that given service. As these intelligent personal assistants process new information very fast, it will follow-up and learn when to direct the patient to a physician’s attention or call for help itself.
In the future, we will be able to share the data we measure about our health and the data in our medical records with these digital personal assistants, so it can help make the wisest decisions. Maybe, they will also be able to detect certain medical conditions based only on our voices. There is already extensive research going on concerning vocal biomarkers and their use in healthcare. And I’m sure software developers and tech companies will recognize the huge potential for the use of gamification in healthcare chatbots as well. For example, if you could collect points for eating healthy food or doing some sports and then you could receive certain rewards, patients would be more motivated to live healthier.