How should technology providers, the medical community and healthcare regulators come together to ensure that chatbots provide beneficial outcomes for healthcare? What approaches and tools will promote innovation, protect society from harm and build consumer trust in the use of chatbots in healthcare?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a key driver of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. AI algorithms are being employed in many domains, including healthcare, and an emerging application within healthcare is the use of AI to create and deploy chatbots. A chatbot is an AI programme designed to converse with people via voice interfaces or text messages within websites, applications or instant messaging.
In healthcare, chatbots can be used in many ways to engage with patients, including to navigate frequently asked questions, find a doctor or service, schedule appointments, facilitate symptom checking, conduct triage in emergency care, prepare for procedures and follow post-discharge instructions. Chatbots can act as virtual assistants to physicians, lowering administrative burden on physicians by giving quick access to patient health records. These can result in better care management and customer engagement.
However, several issues could arise, such as miscommunication between chatbots and customers, customer perception of reduced choices when interacting with chatbots, and neglect of customer preferences in interacting with chatbots vs humans. More serious issues include incorrect/poor guidance, wrong diagnosis, or failure to achieve timely interventions. It is important to thoughtfully govern the deployment of chatbots in healthcare in order to avoid these issues, and ensure transparency, reliability and data security.
This project brings together stakeholders from multiple areas such as chatbot developers, chatbot platforms, the medical community, civil society, academia and healthcare regulators to design frameworks for governing chatbots. Underpinning this is the belief that robust regulation promotes consumer confidence, superior healthcare and opportunity for global adoption.
Activities are centred on three core objectives:
- Framing stakeholder conversations on regulating chatbots in a coherent and accessible manner
- Developing a framework to facilitate decisions about how to govern chatbots in healthcare
- Identifying and iterating innovative approaches and tools for governing chatbots that can be scaled up
How to engage
- Pilot: Implement the governance framework at your organization and provide continued feedback
- Fellow: Nominate an individual from your organization to play an integral role in shaping this initiative
For more information on this project, contact Arunima Sarkar, Project Lead, at email@example.com or Venkataraman Sundareswaran, Project Fellow, at firstname.lastname@example.org