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This blog discusses the benefits of chatbots in healthcare industry for assistance of healthcare providers and patients.
What benefits do medical chatbots offer?
Medical chatbots can offer plenty of benefits to various stakeholders in the healthcare space, e.g.:
- Nowadays, patients want more information about their medical conditions and treatments, e.g., they might need information about generic and prescription drugs. Chatbots in healthcare have emerged as useful tools for a healthcare provider to provide additional information for patients’ satisfaction.
- Healthcare industry has a significant shortfall of qualified medical professionals, therefore, it takes time for patients to receive one-on-one consultations. Chatbots in healthcare can provide initial assistance over one-on-one conversations after analyzing patient data.
- Health chatbots enhance the brand identity of the healthcare institutions that deploy them since AI-powered chatbots can attend to queries from patients round-the-clock and offer timely medical advice.
- As a healthcare organization gathers more data, it can train the AI chatbot better using Machine Learning (ML). This enables the chatbot to provide more relevant information to the patients.
- More people now use smartphones. Medical chatbots help a healthcare professionals reach their patients where they spend more time, i.e., on their smartphones! Read more about this in “Medical chatbot — the 4 greatest challenges medical institutes are facing, solved with chatbots”.
- Medical chatbots can gather feedback from patients about the websites of healthcare organizations, and this helps organizations to improve their websites.
- Health chatbots can remind patients about their medicines, moreover, these chatbots can monitor their patient’s health status.
- Healthcare chatbots can help with scheduling appointments with healthcare professionals, furthermore, they can find the nearest pharmacy or doctor‘s office.
Developing a medical chatbot
You need to take the following steps to create a healthcare chatbot for your healthcare business:
1. Formulate the project scope
You need to onboard a project manager (PM), an IT architect, and business analysts first, subsequently, you need to define the project scope. I recommend that you build a healthcare chatbot application on the web, Android and iOS.
You need to decide on the features to offer for healthcare services, e.g., providing information to patients, offering initial assistance, setting up appointments, etc.
2. Build a software development team
I recommend that you follow the Agile methodology for this project since you might frequently add new features to the web and mobile apps. Scrum is a proven technique to manage Agile projects, therefore, I suggest that you build a scrum team where the PM works as the scrum master.
The PM should form small, cross-functional scrum teams, and you can read about them in “How to build a scrum development team?”. The team needs the following additional roles:
- UI designers;
- AI developers;
- Web developers with Node.js skills;
- Android developers;
- iOS developers;
- DevOps engineers.
If you don‘t have the required people in your organization, then I recommend that you hire a field expert development team. I have explained the benefit of this in “Freelance app development team vs. field expert software development teams”.
3. Provision the required IT infrastructure
If you aren‘t using your on-premises IT infrastructure for deploying the proposed healthcare chatbot app, then you should sign-up with a reputed managed cloud services provider. I recommend the following:
- Develop the web app using AWS Elastic Beanstalk, i.e., the Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering from AWS. It manages cloud infrastructure, networking, operating system, middleware, and runtime environment, therefore, you can focus on development. It‘s easy to scale your app this PaaS, moreover, you can easily integrate 3rd party APIs, databases, and DevOps services.
- Sign-up with AWS Amplify, i.e., the Mobile-Backend-as-a-Service (MBaaS) offering from AWS, so that you don‘t need to develop and manage the mobile backend. It‘s easy to implement features like user management, application security, etc. with Amplify, furthermore, you can easily integrate 3rd party APIs.
4. Sign-up for the Microsoft Healthcare Bot API
Microsoft Healthcare Bot offers robust APIs for developers to create their medical chatbots, and you can find it in the Azure marketplace. Read more about this in “Microsoft Healthcare Bot brings conversational AI to healthcare”.
This AI-powered bot and the associated API enable you to implement the core healthcare chatbot features, moreover, it complies with the stringent healthcare industry regulations like HIPAA. Machine learning algorithms have trained the bot on medical terminologies, symptoms, medications, etc., furthermore, it incorporates conversational AI.
You can integrate the chatbot with your app using its REST API, and it supports key healthcare data standards like HL7. The platform offers detailed documentation, and you can access it here. Check out its pricing plans here.
The mobile app should offer the push notifications feature, therefore you need a bulk-SMS solution. I recommend that you use the Programmable SMS solution from Twilio. You can check out its documentation here.
5. Get a test automation aid
You need a test automation aid to test your web app against different browsers, moreover, you need to test the mobile apps against different devices. Commonly available test automation frameworks don‘t quite facilitate that, therefore, I recommend that you use pCloudy. This solution offers a wide range of browsers and mobile devices on the cloud, and you can find its documentation here.
6. UI design
The web and mobile apps need user-friendly UIs, therefore, your UI design team should use the following guidelines:
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- “User interface design guidelines: 10 rules of thumb” for the web app UI design;
- Material design guidelines, for designing the Android app UI;
- Human Interface Guidelines for the iOS app UI design.
7. Web app development
You can code the web app using Node.js, the popular open-source runtime environment that helps to create scalable and performant web apps. Take the following steps:
- Code the app using the Eclipse IDE, and this Node.js plugin.
- Integrate database resources on AWS Elastic Beanstalk using this guide.
- Integrate the Microsoft Health Bot API in the code.
- Test the app, and deploy it using this AWS documentation.
8. Android app development
I recommend that you code the Android app using Java since most Android developers know it well. You need to take the following steps:
- Use Android Studio to code the app.
- Integrate Twilio and Microsoft Health Bot APIs in your code.
- Test your app using Espresso and the pCloudy mobile device lab on the cloud.
- Publish the app to Google Play by following these instructions.
9. iOS app development
Code the iOS app using Objective-C, which is a feature-rich language that many iOS developers know. Take the following steps:
- Code the app using Xcode, the popular IDE for developing apps for Apple‘s platforms.
- Integrate the Microsoft Health Bot and Twilio APIs in the app.
- Use XCTest and the pCloudy mobile device lab on the cloud to test the app.
- Follow this guide to publish the app to the Apple App Store.
Planning to build a medical chatbot for your healthcare business?
Benefits of chatbots in healthcare sector are numerous from timely patient care services to patient satisfaction. Medical chatbots with natural language understanding can add significant value to your healthcare organization, however, developing these AI-powered chatbot technology apps can be hard.
You should engage a professional software development company for healthcare chatbot development projects since a great healthcare chatbot will enhance your organizations‘ brand identity.
Read “How to find the best software development company?” before you engage such a development partner.
If you are still looking for a healthcare bot development partner then DevTeam.Space can help you. We have a community of high-quality software developers experienced in developing market-competitve solutions for the healthcare industry.
Get in touch via this quick form explaining your requirements for the healthcare chatbot project. One of our technical managers will get back to you to connect you with the right software developers.
Frequently Asked Questions
A chatbot is a computer program that allows users to ask and receive answers to questions.
Chatbots are very complex by their nature. A simple chatbot is within the grasps of a small company, however, a chatbot that is able to understand voice commands is not.
Advanced chatbots such as Siri use machine learning technologies like natural language processing to improve the accuracy of their results.