Suzanne Basra
Tech / Innovation
The AI Doc: Five Takeaways From healthBOT 2018

healthBOT 2018 is the first “chatbot” conference dedicated to artificial intelligence, messaging and chatbots for health & wellness in the UK.

Hosted at Ogilvy UK’s home on London’s South Bank, the half-day conference empowered its attendees to take bold steps into the brave new world of messaging and AI bots and featured engaging discussions on how these technologies will fundamentally alter the health & wellness industries.

A vast range of speakers featured at the conference, including Ogilvy’s  Chief Digital Officer for Health & Wellness, Ritesh Patel, alongside Ogilvy’s Mike McFadden and Alexandra Newman, as well as healthcare experts like Conversation Health’s Dr. John Reeves and Patient Connect’s Dr. Carol Collins. There were countless insights to be gleaned from the day, and we’ve distilled them down into a key handful:

A space for healthcare to grow
With 75% of the UK going online for health information, the market is here and ready for innovation in Health & Wellness.

The third wave of digital is so important and relevant to healthcare. “Patients will engage in conversations with a bot that they would never have with their friends, family or physician” says Conversation Health’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Reeves.

A huge opportunity for the healthcare industry exists with bots and AI. In fact, Ogilvy’s Ritesh Patel explains the “quick response and painlessness” of bots make them great for healthcare.

Supplement, don’t’ replace
When we think about the potential of bots and AI, it can be tempting to have them cover everything. Take Japan for example – a country miles ahead of the UK in terms of robot adoption with entire call centers run solely by robots. Yet, when it comes to healthcare, is this the right approach? Can we have bots without human doctors?

The overwhelming argument against bot-only models was a huge theme throughout the conference. The idea that bots and AI should be part of an overall strategy that serves a purpose when it comes to healthcare was consistently brought forth. The key here is for bots to work with healthcare professionals: to supplement their work, not to replace them.

Making patients’ lives easier
When it comes to messaging bots, the return on engagement is enormous. Ritesh Patel believes this to be a huge opportunity to better the healthcare system for all.

Yet Dr. Carol Collins warned against bombarding patients on these platforms. “When it comes to engaging with patients, there are opportunities to be better, Dr. Collins said. “But we mustn’t add to information overload for patients. Bots for healthcare should make patients’ lives easier”. Technology is always most effective when it is person-centric. In the healthcare sector, the tech needs to be patient-centric.

The importance of the human touch
Ritesh Patel enforced the point that when it comes to AI and bots in healthcare, the human touch still matters.

There are just some things that a human can do which the tech can’t – and that’s ok. No brands can’t expect technology alone to solve their problems, particularly healthcare brands and providers. With bots and AI being supplementary to professionals in the healthcare space, the human element of engagement and interaction with patients remains crucial.

Building the health bot canvas
Conversation Health’s Lexi Kaplin shared insights on building the health bot canvas. She explained that owing to the emergence of chatbots, “healthcare companies can now have continuous conversations with their customers”. Indeed as Dr. John Reeves highlighted, healthcare brands can now talk to millions of customers altogether via bots.

But just being able to connect with large amounts of people isn’t enough. How can health & wellness brands connect with the right audience, and where? When thinking about the health bot canvas, Lexi advises brands and companies to first identify the audience with which they want to engage, then identify the digital touch-points that are most relevant to that audience. The combination of the two is important to effectively communications and make connections with consumers and patients.

There are areas where bots and AI can really add value to healthcare, that can help breathe new life into the industry and the patient experience. It’s certainly an exciting time for healthcare and tech companies alike.

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