A chatbot for gestational diabetes

Can a chatbot help you cope with a new diagnosis?

Photo by Siv Fjørtoft

What happens when someone goes traipsing around Google after receiving a new diagnosis? Chances are they’ll meet page after page filled with scary scenarios, which may or may not be relevant to the actual situation at all.

Convertelligence wants everyone to have access to accurate information. That’s why we’re so excited about our collaboration with Helse Vest IKT, a company that handles IT-related tasks for the health sector in Western Norway. This collaboration began as a way of exploring how pregnant women can use chatbots to find information in an easy and quick way.

This chatbot is now live. Her name is Dina and she is a specialist in gestational diabetes. The idea was hatched by Agnethe Lund, Chief Physician at Haukeland University Hospital’s Women’s Clinic.

Dina is made up of questions from the user group — women with gestational diabetes. A project group consisting of healthcare professionals, mainly midwives and student midwives, wrote Dina’s answers and made sure that users are given correct information. Two midwives are now in charge of reading through Dina’s conversations and improving her to make sure users receive the help they need.

The relationship between doctors and patients is changing. Before information was available on the internet, a patient would unload all her questions and worries on a doctor, and therefore be given answers that are guaranteed to be correct. But patients today have often researched their symptoms before their first meeting with a doctor, and the information they’ve found, may or may not turn out to be correct. Googling symptoms may also suggest worst-case scenarios for the patient, which creates a lot more worry than necessary. A clinic can also be a hectic place and caregivers are not always able to stay with a patient for longer periods of time and answer all their questions.

The idea for this chatbot was therefore motivated by the need to strengthen patients’ knowledge of their own health and give them an option where accurate information was available immediately. By using this chatbot, often instead of googling and possibly stumbling upon the wrong answer, patients can now receive correct, doctor-approved information anywhere, anytime. This is especially helpful in situations where a patient is required to treat herself or change her lifestyle in order to stay as healthy as possible.

A chatbot focusing on gestational diabetes is just the beginning for Haukeland University Hospital. Plans for the future includes more chatbots made for specific conditions, as well as a chatbot for pregnant women in general. This would mean creating a much bigger bot, which could turn out to be an invaluable resource for those in need.

This is a transcreated and shortened version of this article originally published in Fagbladet Journalen.