AI, or artificial intelligence, is increasingly being used in healthcare, from diagnostics and treatment management to answering questions about benefits and wellbeing. Yet many still have questions about how AI works and the value it brings to the healthcare industry.

As a 2020 Artificial Intelligence Excellence Winner, Virgin Pulse knows a thing or two about AI. Our AI solution, a chatbot we call Concierge, helps consumers navigate often confusing benefits and health plan information in a conversational, simplified way. Here are answers to some of the most common questions our experts get asked about how to use AI in healthcare.

What is AI?

The term artificial intelligence (AI) describes a computer system that can perform tasks that typically require human-level intelligence, such as natural language understanding and complex decision-making.

On the big screen, AI gets a bad rap in the form of scary robots trying to take over the world. In real life, AI provides a very efficient way to do complex things, like searching and analyzing data that could take a human days, months or even years to complete. Virgin Pulse’s chatbot leverages AI to deliver an on-demand, personalized experience that empowers people to make important healthcare and benefits decisions 24/7, and often faster than they could by calling their benefits provider directly. 

Tell me more…what exactly is an AI chatbot?

An AI-powered chatbot is a software application that uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology to interpret human text or speech and respond appropriately. They are an efficient and scalable way to provide personalized information and solutions.

One important benefit of NLP in healthcare is that people can ask the question using their own words. Our chatbot is trained to understand what they are asking, and to respond in a conversational tone. For example, one person might ask, “What’s my co-pay for an annual check-up?” while another asks, “How much does seeing the doctor cost?”

Virgin Pulse’s AI solution, Concierge, knows these people are asking the same question and tailors its response based on each user’s health plan information and real-time accumulator balances. A bonus for our clients is that giving people the opportunity get answers from an AI chatbot also reduces volume to their call centers, freeing agents up for more complex and/or urgent questions.

How do you train an AI chatbot to understand context?

Great question! Machine learning algorithms that incorporate human feedback allow AI chatbots to learn from previous conversations and expand their contextual understanding over time. Pairing this linguistic understanding with knowledge of the end user drives productive and meaningful interactions. It’s really similar to how humans learn, by taking experience and feedback into consideration, and adjusting future responses based on the outcome, but at a much faster pace.   

How do you avoid bias in AI?

This is an incredibly important question in the AI field, and especially as applied to healthcare. To avoid biased behavior, it is critical to train an AI system using data that represents all potential users. Language data should include a variety of linguistic styles and dialects, and the topics trained should consider the needs of users across dimensions of age, gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic factors, and more. At Virgin Pulse, we minimize bias in our healthcare AI-chatbot by being thoughtful about our data strategy, encouraging a representational set of users, and creating a diverse development team.

Why should I partner with an AI expert?

To really understand what users want, and the wide varieties of ways that they will ask for it, you need LOTS of data. Virgin Pulse has spent the last 7 years training our AI chatbot on over 26,000 healthcare questions from real users, and we are continuously incorporating new data and feedback. An effective chatbot also requires frequent human-supervised training and tuning to adapt to changing information and guide the expansion of the bot’s knowledge.

Virgin Pulse’s AI chatbot has delivered significant results for our clients, boosting user satisfaction and helping over 60% of them save time calling or searching for information.

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