NEW DELHI: Seeking to provide “smart help” to patients in accessing consultation from doctors, a city-based start-up has introduced a ‘digital assistant’ in its healthcare app which allows users to chat with an artificial intelligence-based bot.
The founders of ‘Visit’, an on-demand healthcare service online platform that provides to its users a pool of medical specialists and general physicians to choose from for consultation, said they developed this “AI-driven assistant” also to ease the burden of doctors.
“Our country is already facing a shortage of doctors. And, many a time, patients go to a general physician’s clinic, where there is a long queue, and the doctor eventually asks them to consult a specialist.
“What this AI bot (‘chatbot’) does is, it performs the initial screening of patients, based on the responses fed by the user of the app. It then directs the user to the general physician or a specialist, accordingly,” said Vaibhav Singh, head of growth at the firm, founded in 2016.
Visit Internet Services was started by four students of BITS-Pilani, including Vaibhav, while they were in the final year of their course. The venture has already received funding from MapMyIndia, and based out of Okhla in south Delhi.
“When a user downloads the app, he or she gets a text greeting from the bot, like ‘Hi… How can I help you’. It then asks questions, like the symptoms, and responds according to the run-time response of the user. And, then say, the user says, ‘it has skin itching or something’, then it may direct him/her to a dermatologist on our pool,” 24-year-old Vaibhav told PTI.
The chatbot or the ‘Healthcare Assistant Bot’ is a react-based chat client, and users can also ask a bot to order medicines.
“The bot is available on Android, IOS and web. We have already crossed the 50,000-mark on downloads on Google PlayStore for Android-based apps only,” he said and claimed this was the country’s first AI-integrated health app.
Shashvat Tripathi, 25, head of technology at Visit, said he and his team spent “sleepless nights” and there were “moments of failure” but, we believed in it.
“The bot uses a mathematical probabilistic model to determine possible conditions, based on the answers given by the user, to questions that the bot asks,” he said.
“The bot learns about conditions and their associated symptoms by parsing millions of live chats on the Visit app and uses its NLP (Natural Language Processing) engine to extract information about symptoms and possible diagnoses by the doctor,” Shashvat said.
The bot learns using this data and uses the information to “reinforce its decision network”. “It does not throw up stored responses to questions, but learns from the answers given by the user, which makes it unique, he said.
‘Visit’ offers paid online consultation, through video and voice channels, and seven days of free follow-up check-up over text chat. Besides, it maintains a pool of MBBS doctors, who through its ‘Q’ service, offer free health advice by text.
“Currently close to 700 users chat on our ‘Q’ per day. We seek to position ourself as a replacement for online searches and self-medication habits,” Vaibhav said.
The online platform, currently has a pool of 2,200 doctors which include psychologists, dieticians, dermatologists, sexologists, gynaecologists, preventive cardiology and paediatrician, besides general physicians.
“For a general physician (having an MD), the consultation fee is Rs 400, for a psychologist (Rs 800), sexologist (Rs 500), gynaecologist (Rs 400), among other verticals,” he said.