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A group of researchers has recently published a study on the use of a chatbot in healthcare.
Researchers from the Stanford School of Medicine conducted an experiment using Woebot, a chatbot or a computer program that can talk to humans. Developed by Dr. Alison Darcy, Woebot provides mental health advice through Facebook Messenger.
In order to test Woebot’s effectiveness, the researchers asked their first group of participants to use Woebot. Then, they told the second group to read a self-help book on mental health. After two weeks, results showed that Woebot was able to effectively provide therapy for participants with depression. It also showed that both Woebot and the self-help book have the same effectiveness for treating anxiety.
Other chatbots and apps were also invented to focus on mental and emotional health. For instance, a chatbot called Joy uses a series of questions to probe into one’s emotional state. On the other hand, apps like Babylon and Your.MD provide health advice based on how a user feels. These apps both use a huge pool of medical information gathered by engineers and doctors.
According to chatbot developers, it is high time that medical facts and information are made easily accessible to patients. They explained that this is possible by integrating technology into healthcare. Not only will it decrease a patient’s fear of ridicule, it will also reduce the need for paying doctors’ fees.
In contrast, some medical experts believe that chatbots cannot fully replace human doctors. They said that the skills of healthcare professionals are still very important. However, they believe that technology can support doctor-patient relationships.