Generative AI chatbots in digital treatment support

Author: Nina Scheizel

Chatbots with Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) are becoming increasingly relevant in modern healthcare. The chatbot ISA (which stands for “Intelligente Schnelle Assistentin”, or “Intelligent Speedy Assistant”) from the pharmaceutical company Berlin-Chemie is just one example of this. It was created in collaboration with IBM iX and is based on Generative AI and scientifically substantiated data relating to COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) that can be used as part of therapy.

Digital treatment support at the highest scientific level

Digital treatment support is undergoing a transformative development due to the use of Generative AI based on substantiated scientific facts. But what role do innovative chatbots play in this respect? And to what extent are they heralding a new era of more effective digital treatment support in the healthcare sector?

Innovative chatbots enable natural interaction with patients and answer individual questions in an understandable way. The chatbot from Berlin-Chemie relies on a comprehensive database based exclusively on previously verified medical content. The database originates from TheraKey, a patient portal that not only provides realistic and scientifically validated information, but also offers practical tips on dealing with nine diseases and how to treat them. It was developed in collaboration with doctors. Combining Generative AI, verified medical content and practical examples creates treatment support that offers high added value for patients which can be a valuable addition to medical treatment by physicians, offering significant benefits to patients.

“By combining Generative AI and scientifically validated data, we can offer tailored treatment support that has the potential to improve patient care in the long term. Working together with IBM iX, in a very short space of time we developed an innovative chatbot that takes personalised treatment support to a whole new level,” comments Jan Hulshoff Pol, Head of Digital Healthcare Marketing at Berlin-Chemie.

Customised patient communication

The ISA chatbot from Berlin-Chemie allows COPD patients to ask specific and typical questions about their disease – from symptoms to treatment options – and receive answers that are tailored to their needs. ISA only accesses the verified content on TheraKey. COPD stands for “chronic obstructive pulmonary disease”. It is a permanent lung disease where the airways are narrowed and the lungs can be damaged. One particular advantage of treatment support with ISA is that patients can use everyday language to communicate with the chatbot.

For example, ISA’s answer to the question “Can I exercise if I have COPD?” is: “Yes. You can exercise as a COPD patient. However, any physical activity you do should always be adapted to the severity of your condition. If you have COPD, suitable activities include swimming, walking, jogging, cycling and hiking. It is important to start any physical activity slowly and carefully, especially if you are in a new environment. It is advisable to talk to the doctor treating you about any physical activity you plan on doing to ensure that it is suitable for you.”

Knowledge transfer and promoting patient competence

The use of Generative AI turns chatbots into valuable sources of information for patients. Chatbots provide patients with comprehensive knowledge of diseases and treatment options and systematically answer individual questions. This approach is not only designed to get patients actively involved in their healthcare but is also aimed at strengthening patients’ medical knowledge in the long term so that they can better manage their disease.

There’s more to Berlin-Chemie’s chatbot than just offering patients support through regular interactions and continuous accessibility. ISA also aims to encourage greater patient engagement with the COPD content on the TheraKey portal so that patients can develop a deeper understanding of how to manage the disease and positively and effectively help make their treatment a success.

A good database is essential

The use of Generative AI chatbots in treatment support brings along with it both challenges and limitations. The chatbot is only ever as good as its database. The quality and relevance of the available data significantly influence the accuracy and reliability of the information generated. The challenge therefore lies in providing the comprehensive and up-to-date medical data that is needed to deliver precise recommendations that meet patients’ individual needs.

ISA draws on a solid database of over 720 articles on COPD through the TheraKey patient portal. However, accurate fine-tuning is crucial for the best possible chatbot performance. This is achieved by clearly defining and limiting the chatbot’s responses. Fine-tuning and precise pre-prompting ensure that the chatbot provides adequate and substantiated information. Clear boundaries and guidelines are established to ensure the quality of responses meets the highest accuracy and relevance standards.

Privacy and security – the top priorities

In addition to a solid database, ethical considerations with respect to data security and data protection pose a key challenge that must be addressed in a targeted manner. Given how sensitive health data is, protecting patients’ privacy is of the utmost importance.

The ISA chatbot from Berlin-Chemie allows patients to access pre-screened medical content without collecting their personal data. This conscious decision not to store any sensitive information guarantees compliance with the most stringent data protection standards. This ensures patients’ continued trust in the security of their health data and makes the innovative technology a reliable partner in health management. Patients are also explicitly advised not to enter any personal data in order to ensure clear communication about privacy practices.

The TheraKey patient portal is product-neutral. With this in mind, the ISA chatbot prompts patients to consult their doctor if they have any questions about their medication. They will also be redirected to the appropriate Berlin-Chemie form so they can submit any reports of side effects. These chatbot development measures ensure that questions about medication and reporting side effects are handled securely.

Despite some limitations, Generative AI chatbots offer promising opportunities to improve patient care when they are implemented in conjunction with a high-quality database and are carefully monitored. This provides ideal assistance for effective treatment support.

Outlook for the future: the evolution of generative chatbots in the healthcare sector

The introduction of Generative AI chatbots in the healthcare sector – especially for treatment support – is a groundbreaking innovation. Despite some limitations and challenges, the technology offers significant opportunities to improve the effectiveness of patient care.

Berlin-Chemie is planning to continuously further develop the ISA chatbot. These plans not only include optimising interactions, such as the use of language and multilingualism, but also integrating valuable resources from the TheraKey patient portal. The purpose of targeted links to relevant articles, recipes and physical exercise from TheraKey is to encourage comprehensive engagement with COPD. Patient support isn’t the only goal of expanding the range of features in this way. The aim is also to inform and encourage patients to actively deal with their chronic condition, so they can achieve a higher quality of life.

Click here for the TheraKey treatment guide: www.therakey.de

Excellent experiences for the healthcare industry – with IBM iX

The digital transformation is permanently changing the healthcare industry. We from the Health Team at IBM iX are here to support you – from strategy and design to technology. We know your challenges and especially your potential.

Feel free to contact us!

This might also interest you