The world was a very different place only ten months ago. Since then, Covid-19 has managed to change the world, probably for good. It is safe to say that we’ve all adapted and moulded our lives accordingly.
With people locked up in their houses, either alone or with people they didn’t necessarily want to be with, it is not surprising that there has been a surge in mental health complaints and problems. That said, there is talk of the effect of chatbots on medical care, particularly during the Covid-19 era.
In this day and age, there are chatbots for virtually everything. While there is a negative connotation attached to the concept of bots, buying proxies, and so forth, bots play a vital role in the current pandemic and the future of the healthcare industry – both of which will be discussed in this article.
Covid-19’s Effect On Physical And Mental Health
While some countries are fairly flexible with their lockdown restrictions, others are relatively more strict, making it virtually impossible to get basic physical exercise every day.
Furthermore, people are now working from home, a working model that seems to have gotten mixed opinions. While some would argue that you could save time working from home, Oracle’s report shows that 78% of employees in 2020 were negatively affected in terms of mental health. Here are a few reasons for this:
- There is limited or no human contact, which is one of the most obvious reasons for our current plight.
- Since people work from home, there is no boundary between home and office, which means that any free time you would have otherwise is used for extra work and meetings late into the night.
- And of course, the news and media have been dominated by Covid-19-related statistics during the past year.
The combination of these three factors has resulted in a significant adverse impact on our mental health.
What Role Do Chatbots Play in Response To The Pandemic?
The role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the pandemic response is the crux of this article. Chatbots are known to provide instant conversational reactions and make it easy for patients to feel a sense of connection. Here are a few specific ways chatbots have proven to be incredibly useful:
- Chatbots provide patients with on-demand advice
- Intelligent and Supportive Care
- Alleviate mental health
Chatbots Provide Patients With On-Demand Advice
Chatbots are incredibly sophisticated and are capable of providing you with accurate information on demand.
A non-profit health system based out of Sacramento, California named ‘Sutter Health’ has a comprehensive online symptom-checker. Now, it includes questions to screen COVID-19. A team of doctors used a vast knowledge base, evaluating one’s medical history, current symptoms, and risk factors, along with a probabilistic reasoning engine to curate this chatbot.
Intelligent And Supportive Care
At this point, patients are increasingly counting on digital healthcare to receive support. In other words, they are not dealing with another human for the same, and a chatbot instead. Thanks to AI technology chatbots –
- Do well to help patients identify their symptoms,
- Recommend treatments and arrange visits accordingly
Chatbots are especially useful when there is a shortage of staff. Hospitals can use chatbots as health assistants to provide intelligent, empathetic, and supportive care around the clock.
Alleviate Mental Health
One of the most significant points in favor of chatbots is the fact that they represent a judgment-free zone. As mentioned earlier, there has been a surge in stress over the past year due to the blend of work and personal life.
With millions of people stuck at home for months and no demarcation between work hours and personal time, they are not surprised that they are looking for someone to turn to. However, they would rather turn to chatbots than their managers.
You can talk to a chatbot at any time, day or night, and seek information and talk about things candidly, which you would not be able to do with your manager or colleagues.
How Chatbots Are Shaping The Future Of The Healthcare Industry
Chatbots have proven to be an incredibly vital asset, particularly in the medical field. As you know by now, they have played a vital role in response to the pandemic. Here are a few ways chatbots can influence and shape the future of the healthcare industry:
Chatbots can enable patients to their appointments almost instantaneously without having to deal with a receptionist. As a patient, all you have to do is choose the doctor you want to visit, select a time slot, enter specific personal details and symptoms. You can expect to receive follow-up messages with updates and reminders of your scheduled appointment.
With bots now in place, checking for symptoms is immensely easy. Bots can help you identify your signs and diagnose your medical condition without having to leave the house and visit the doctor. Chatbots use Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand patient requests, which is vital for high accuracy.
Some patients need to have their health tracked regularly. Such patients can benefit from chatbots. Doctors and patients can use bots to coordinate. These bots can give them a health record with all the tracked conditions and other critical details, thus evaluating the impact of the prescribed medication.
Hiring & Training
Healthcare companies are continually on the lookout for new hires. Manually onboarding employees is a tedious task because of the massive amount of paperwork that needs to be filled out.
These companies are now turning to chatbots to ease the Human Resources (HR) department’s job. If you are a new employee, you could subscribe to a chatbot and become a part of the onboarding process.
Integrating chatbots to company operations and processes is not new. In fact, AI has been steadily gaining credibility over the years, regardless of its role in the pandemic response. However, chatbots play a vital role in just about every field. While robots may not completely replace humans in the healthcare industry, they can certainly help streamline and simplify what comes their way.