New Dentistry Chatbot Helps Triage Patients During COVID-19 Crisis
Dental software developer Awrel has debuted a new chatbot to help dentists screen for patients in need of emergency care during the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis. The Emergency Dental Virtual Assistant is part of the rise of a new chatbot ecosystem for professional services, especially in healthcare.
Awrel’s virtual assistant operates as a customizable AI that a dental practice can incorporate into their existing website. Users can communicate via typing or by voice with the AI, which also provides stock responses users can click on to speed up the interaction. In a conversation with the chatbot embedded on the Farber Center for Periodontics and Dental Implants website, the user is guided through providing personal information as a new patient and then asks about any tooth pain or other symptoms. Relying on Awrel’s medical database, the chatbot then suggests potential self-care regimens, and if an in-person appointment is a good idea. If so, there’s a follow-up text or call to arrange a time for the patient to come in. All of the data shared with the chatbot can then be transferred automatically to the patient’s record using HIPAA-compliant software developed by Awrel. The new project stems from Awrel’s earlier texting app and the Awrel Voice app that enables dentists to handle lab orders and other tasks using voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
The chatbot reduces demand on dental practices by answering questions at any time and helping triage those in immediate need of dental care versus those who might be able to resolve their complaint just based on the AI’s advice. That help is appreciated even more as all medical services are strained by the coronavirus pandemic. Concerns about virus transmission are acute in dental appointments too, where the patient, by definition, can’t cover their nose and mouth.
“From the start of this pandemic, we worked diligently to develop a solution that immediately supports dental providers seeking an efficient way to triage patients and answer questions while also addressing social distancing needs of staff and patients,” Awrel CEO Arnold Rosen said in a statement. “Awrel’s offerings are unlike others because they can easily be adapted to work seamlessly across the internet, mobile devices and smart speakers, and can readily integrate with existing tele-dental services.”
Awrel’s dentistry-focused chatbot complement the surge in interest by healthcare providers for applying chatbots and AI to handle healthcare questions. They come in several variations, such as Hyro’s free coronavirus-focused version of its virtual assistant, the conversational AI built by Orbita, or the customized versions of Microsoft’s template that some hospitals are using. Even governments like India and the UK have released chatbots on WhatsApp for answering coronavirus questions. Voice assistant platforms are following suit as well, with Google Assistant offering pandemic tips, and Alexa and Apple’s Siri providing their own COVID-19 questionnaire to assess potential infection. The Mayo Clinic has published a proprietary coronavirus information voice app for Alexa as well. As lockdowns and quarantines continue, more healthcare chatbots for dentistry and other specializations may crop up to handle questions from patients, cementing the technology as an integral part of the healthcare industry as a whole.