Medical history taking and diagnosing: chatbots in healthcare

Medical history taking and diagnosing: chatbots in healthcare

Modern people take the term ‘chatbot’ for a commonplace. We use virtual assistants in messengers, sometimes they bug us with annoying ads. What is more, they can be used for healthcare purposes.

What are healthcare chatbots? Why use them in this sphere? What examples can be seen today? Let us explore the topic.

What is a chatbot?

What is a chatbot

A chatbot is a program designed to receive and process text messages with automated answers to them.

It may be presented in the form of a separate window on the website to insert messages or a program written for popular messengers. The third variant is a separate mobile app that is a messenger.

In terms of user interaction, there are simple and more complex variants. The former are kind of interviewers working within a certain scenario. As soon as they recognize particular words, an algorithm gives a predefined answer to them.

More complicated chatbots are based on artificial intelligence. Their abilities are not restricted to a control phrase. Instead, they will ask a couple of follow-up questions, adapt to a situation, and find out what you are looking for after all.

Why are chatbots needed in healthcare?

chatbots in healthcare

There are two cases of chatbots application in healthcare:

  1. To take a medical history and send it to the doctor.

  2. To make a presumptive diagnosis and if needed, move forward to the doctor.

In the first case, a chatbot goes in the form of an intelligent interviewer that provides a doctor with the patient’s information. It is needed to ease the burden on doctors thus saving their costly time spent on routine tasks.

In the second case, chatbots perform the same actions with some sophisticated functions: having collected patient’s data, they make a presumptive diagnosis and give advice.

What are examples of chatbots in healthcare?

Babylon Health

This is one of the most sophisticated apps used in the UK. With its rising popularity, Babylon Health is used for first aid by the National Health Service (NHS).

The chatbot is based on an AI-powered platform filled with general healthcare knowledge. Patients describe their symptoms and then a chatbot makes possible diagnoses. The app is convenient due to the option of a video connection with a doctor.


ADA is embedded in a mobile app. You leave data on your health in an improvised medical record, for example, allergies. Pictures help a patient to show problem he\she has (using a picture of a human body). Then, the chatbot poses specific questions to clearly spot a source of anxiety. For example, if you complain of an arm, it will ask whether you feel pain when folding your elbow.

After all, the system provides a couple of possible diagnoses that can be discussed with a real doctor via video connection.


This service operates in the same way as the two abovementioned do: details symptoms and makes diagnoses. What is more, Your.MD has an embedded vocabulary with information about various diseases and medical terms. Besides, the app also offers a health tracker.


There also exist pseudo chatbots. For example, some of them act as medication reminders with no other functions.

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