Use Cases of Chatbots in Healthcare Industry

We have been hearing a lot that chatbots will reduce human jobs in coming years. We are already seeing this trend in industries like Manufacturing, Engineering, and Customer Service among others but can Chatbots replace Doctors and Nurses in Healthcare? The answer is ‘Very Unlikely’ given the fact that each person is unique in health and lifestyle and a simple mistake in the medical treatment can be dangerous to human life.

Yet, chatbots have become a trust-worthy virtual assistant who can handle the helpdesk and administrative tasks to save time and cost while improving the quality and effectiveness of healthcare services. Chatbots have the potential to revolutionize the healthcare industry by offering 24/7 helpdesk support and personalized experience to patients which is the major challenge for healthcare providers. Chatbots can help patients to get quick answers to their health-related questions among many other use cases.

Here are some of the use cases of Chatbots in the healthcare industry which can improve the quality and effectiveness of healthcare services:

  • Scheduling Doctor’s Appointment:

    Who has not experienced long waits on the phone to schedule an appointment with a doctor but what if we can schedule the appointment over text/messaging apps without interacting with a human? Yes, Chatbots can ease the business process and give a personalized experience to patients while scheduling an appointment. They can also send reminders about the appointment to the patients.

  • 24/7 Support to Patients:

    This is something we miss in the current healthcare system. Chatbots never sleep and they can provide 24/7 support to patients. Chatbots can answer simple and frequently asked questions (FAQs) anytime. It may not offer a diagnosis but can monitor the health status and notify a Nurse immediately if the parameters are out of control.

  • Medication Reminders to Patients:

    Patients often forget to take medications and nutrition supplements as prescribed and it can risk their health. This is where Chatbots can be very helpful to send medication reminders at a prescribed time to take the drugs. Chatbots can also send the reminders for re-prescription of medicines, routine checkups, and other health-related

  • Billing and Registration:

    An intelligent Chatbot can take care of billing, inventory, and insurance claims management through integration with backend systems to generate the invoices for the payments. Health Insurance providers can deploy a bot to answer questions related to insurance coverage, claims, and procedures.

  • Paperless System:

    Chatbots can be integrated with EHR/EMR systems to create and maintain the medical data of the patients. These documents can be accessed by the patient or the doctor whenever there is a need.

Chatbots offer the great user experience to the users but the key is to develop and train the Chatbot to communicate accurately. As the advancement in Artificial Intelligence (AI) progresses, these chatbots will be more knowledgeable and offer a more human experience in future. We at Unvired has developed Chyme Bots Platform to develop intelligent chatbots for businesses. Click here to contact us to know more about our bot development.

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Progressive Web Apps vs. Native Mobile Apps

As you go about implementing your Digital/Mobile strategy, one of the decisions that you will have to make is whether to build for the Mobile Web or Native apps or both. There has always been a debate around this, but the lines between them are blurring now. Gone are the days when you were required to go Native for high-performance apps, offline capability, or if you needed an app icon installed on the home screen. Although web technologies have evolved significantly, there are no clear-cut answers yet. Specifically, Google has invested in technologies that enable the creation of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), which combine the best of the two worlds—that of mobile web and native apps. We share below our take on PWAs based on research on this topic and our experience of enabling customers with their digital/mobile requirements.

What are PWAs?

In a nutshell, PWAs bring native app-like functions and features to websites. They should work on all smart devices, adapting the performance to the ability of the device, browser, and connection.

The key Benefits are:

  • Works across platforms (Desktop, Web, Android, Windows, and iOS (Safari has limitations)
  • Option to save the PWA icon to the Home screen
  • The ability to send push notifications
  • Some offline capability to provide a good User Experience is possible
  • Make payments
  • Access native device features like camera
  • No need for any App download or seek Approval from App Stores
  • Easier to use in Low Bandwidth Conditions or on lower end smart devices
  • Easy Discoverability and Shareability (just share a link)
  • Less Costly to Develop compared to Native apps as no need to maintain different code bases for Web, Android, IOS, and Windows
  • Fast Loading: Order of Magnitude Lower Data Sizes compared to Native apps

In fact, one of the most attractive features of PWAs is their download size, compared with iOS apps and Android apps. This is important because the smaller the size, the quicker the download, and better the performance.

Limitations of PWAs

It should also be noted that PWAs today have some limitations, especially for the iOS Platform. As Safari has yet to implement the Service Worker feature, PWAs on iPhones and iPads are not able to send push notifications or work offline.  As far as Windows goes, Microsoft is in the process of supporting Service Workers in their Edge browser.

PWAs Vs. Native Apps

Now that we understand PWAs, a natural question to ask is whether PWAs eliminate the need for Native apps. This question is best answered by analyzing what strategy enterprises are actually undertaking in the real world.  Google has shared the Case Studies of Twitter and Lancome, and the highlights are:

Twitter PWA Case Study

The Twitter Lite PWA combines the best of the modern web and native features. It became the default mobile web experience for all users globally in April 2017. Twitter developed Twitter Lite to deliver a more robust experience, with explicit goals for instant loading, user engagement, and lower data consumption. Twitter’s website reaches millions of users, but it’s traditionally been difficult to re-engage users on the mobile web. After implementing the “Add to Home screen” prompt asking users to save Twitter Lite to their home screens, Twitter has seen 250,000 unique daily users launch Twitter Lite from the home screen 4 times a day on average. Twitter also implemented web push notifications that work the same as those from native apps and arrive even if the user’s browser is closed. The implementation is delivering over 10 Million push notifications a day. Full details can be read at:

https://developers.google.com/web/showcase/2017/twitter

Lancome PWA Case Study

At first, Lancôme considered building an e-commerce mobile app but decided that an app only made sense for customers who visited regularly. They understood that shoppers on Lancôme’s mobile site behave differently, and wouldn’t return to an e-commerce app. Lancôme wanted to build the right user experience (UX) on all of their devices. The company needed a fast-loading, compelling mobile experience, similar to what they could achieve with a native app but one that was also discoverable and accessible to everyone via the mobile web.

Instead of minimally updating their underlying site, Lancôme looked to PWA technologies to provide an immersive, app-like experience. They took advantage of service workers to deliver reliable performance on unstable networks and push notifications for re-engagement. Their best-in-class PWA achieves a performance score of 94/100 on Lighthouse, an automated tool for improving web page quality.

With the new PWA, the time until the page is interactive fell by 84%, compared to their previous mobile experience.  Lancôme saw their mobile sessions rise by more than 50%, and conversions increase by 17%. Full details can be read at:

https://developers.google.com/web/showcase/2017/lancome

Recommendations

The Unvired view is that enterprises do not need to necessarily choose between native apps and PWAs. Companies like Twitter, Lancome, and Ola Cabs (a leading cab service in India) have both native apps and PWAs. It really depends on the business strategy, target customers/markets, and the prevailing bandwidth/mobile devices environment.  There are various possible Scenarios:

  1. Existing Web and Native Apps Presence: You have several options. If you already have developed native apps, you should continue to enhance their User Experience if the native experience is very important for you.   At the same time, you may want to move your website to a PWA to enhance performance.
  2. Existing Web Presence Only: This may imply that native apps are not critical for you. Evaluate moving to PWA and get the best of the mobile web and native apps.
  3. Poorly Performing Website on Mobile: Evaluate moving to PWA and get the best of the mobile web and native apps.
  4. Existing Native Apps Presence Only: Enhance Native Apps if the native functionality is critical. Else, evaluate moving to PWA.
  5. No App Presence at all (for example a New Company/Product): Evaluate PWA as a first option while recognizing that PWA is limited on iOS currently (No offline, No Push Notifications). Instead of Web + Native (iOS) +Native (Android) +Native (Windows 10), you can build only for Web + iOS.

I would love to hear your views on this topic—have you implemented PWAs as yet? Pl. write to me at alok.pant@unvired.com to share your thoughts.

 

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Developing Apps and other Integrations with the UMP REST API

The Unvired Mobile Platform offers a rich set of REST APIs to build custom integrations easily.  The REST APIs are broadly classified into APIs that deal with:

  • Sessions - Handles persistent login sessions
  • Users - Work with Unvired users (Create, Update, List, Lock etc)
  • Groups - Work with groups of users (Create, Update, List etc)
  • Applications and Libraries - Work with Unvired applications and libraries (Execute functions, Deploy, Undeploy, Configure Properties and Settings etc)
  • Messages and Attachments - Queue messages, attachments, retrieve them etc.

Other APIs include:

  • Companies - Work with Unvired Companies (Departments) (Create, Update, Activate plans, List etc)
  • Status - Get technical status information on the platform for monitoring etc.

Some use cases can be to create a user in the UMP when a user is provisioned in MS Active Directory, or write command line tools that create users/groups based on other Identity Management systems like ADS, LDAP etc, deploy (make available) applications to users belonging to specified ADS groups etc.  The APIs can also be used to for e.g. execute functionality in an enterprise system like a ticketing system from a web site wherein the user can request support.

The APIs are documented in detail and the documentation is made available as Swagger definitions for import into API testing tools, code generation etc.  Additionally, if you are a Postman fan (http://getpostman.com) you can directly import the UMP Postman collection to work with the APIs and test/develop.

The detailed documentation can be accessed at the Unvired Developer Portal (http://developer.unvired.com)

Enjoy developing smart integrations.

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3 Ideas for Designing for Chatbots

Chatbots are the rage, but we are in the early days.  We are still not sure about how best to design for bots.  Yes, while conversational interfaces have promised to redefine the User Experience, the challenge facing us is to identify the right Use Cases and the appropriate design.  After reviewing the nascent literature on this, talking to customer end users, and based on our own experience of building chatbots for enterprise systems, here are 3 ideas for Designing for Chatbots:

  1. Minimize Input: The user experience should be the priority.  Expecting users to enter free text has the potential for failure.  Instead, it may be best to have users give structured input.  For example, our developers at Unvired have designed a Command Infrastructure that eliminates lengthy free text input.  For example, Users can select Approve or Reject a Purchase Order in SAP or View Sales order from Oracle EBS with a Get Order Details simple chat command.
  2. Hybrid Approach: In some cases, the user may want to talk to a human at some point in the conversation with the bot. Good design should enable a human to jump in at any time.  Say, for example, you are ordering flowers on Facebook Messenger using a chatbot, but are frustrated because you cannot find what you are looking for.  There should be a way out to reach out to a human.
  3. Simple: The design for chatbots should be simple. One of the advantages of bots is that the need for say, a 3 screen application is eliminated.  There is no GUI.  Bots interactions should be kept simple and short—the user should give minimal input, and receive the output.

Let me know if you have other ideas for designing for bots.  These are early days, and we can all learn from each other.

 

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The Digital Enterprise: Transform your Employee Engagement

Enterprises are transforming themselves into the Digital Enterprise. The drivers behind the move to Digital are enhanced customer experience, operational excellence, new business models, innovations in business processes, and greater employee engagement. Technologies such as Social, Mobile, Analytics/Big Data, Wearables, and Cloud are the enablers behind going Digital. The Digital Experience varies for the Customer, Supplier, and Employee. This blog focuses on that for the employee.

While it is true that enterprises already have digital data due to ERP, CRM, and other such systems, there is still an enormous amount of data on paper, especially generated by the mobile worker who till now, has not had ready access to mobile devices and systems while in the Field. Mobile devices were limited to certain roles like in warehouses or sales. The proliferation of mobile devices has now created the opportunity to create a true Digital Enterprise.

I have also included some real-world customer examples to add context to the discussion.

The “Disconnected” Employee

Today, employees at a company are still struggling to connect with each other and are unable to share information seamlessly, despite all the advances in technology. Communication is still via emails for the most part, and over phone calls.  Information is not shared with all team members who have a need to know. Collaboration suffers leading to sub-optimal decision making that can delay a product launch in a CPG company or endanger patient safety in a healthcare setting. This in turn also leads to a lost opportunity in providing employees with a lifelong learning experience. The “Disconnected Employee” is thus a Less Productive and less Engaged Employee.  Let us examine below some of the steps one can take to overcome these limitations.

Communication

As the “Consumerization of IT” takes hold, employees expect to be able to use the same tools that they use in their personal lives to use in the workplace. Email only does not cut it anymore. So, texting including leaving voice notes becomes an important tool to communicate as does the ability to easily make video calls. Employees expect to receive alerts or notifications not just via emails—they want notifications sent to their mobile devices when an important event occurs or they need to take action.

Chat/Messaging like communication channels are becoming increasingly popular, which will have subscribers based on levels of interest. Thus, for example, employees at a manufacturing plant could subscribe to an Asset Management Channel where they could share information related to suppliers, parts failing, and tips for preventive maintenance.

In all cases, communication between employees has to be highly secure. Data that resides on mobile devices need to be encrypted, and in some industries like healthcare, communication needs to be HIPAA compliant, and protect patient health information.

Collaboration

Employees are demanding that they be able to collaborate across channels—be it over their desktops, Web, tablets, smartphones, or Wearables like Apple Watch. The Mobile web and mobile applications allow for the exchange of information anytime anywhere.  A Field Service Worker repairing a piece of equipment on an oilfield can make a video call to an expert back at Headquarters, share images of the damage, and seek advice, so as to perform the optimal repairs. Similarly, a physician in a hospital can share lab results over a HIPAA compliant texting application using their tablets, leading to enhanced patient safety.

Mobile Dashboards are an important element of collaboration.  The ability of executives to access data at their fingertips anytime enables them to make better and real-time decisions. Trending of data, and predicting possible outcomes be it in the areas of Sales or Plant Operations adds immense value and moves enterprises from a reactive to a proactive mode.

Lifelong Learning

Employees add new skills and gain training throughout their careers.  In many industries, they need to pass tests on a regular basis and keep certificates on record for compliance purposes.  Mobile applications are a great way to ensure lifelong learning.  Employees can access content from their smartphones or tablets anytime anywhere and are not tied to their desktops.  Data captured about the tasks performed by an employee can be analyzed, and recommendations are made about what training is best suited for that particular employee.  As an example, an electrician performing asset/equipment repairs in a Chemicals plant can be evaluated on the quality of work based on the re-work performed within 30 days.  Also, the data recorded about the procedures performed by a specific worker can be used to dispatch the best workers for a particular job based on their experience.

Benefits of the Digital Experience for Employees

We present below some tangible business benefits reported publicly by two of our customers.

Kaneka: Kaneka is a chemicals manufacturing company based in the Houston, Texas area. They have deployed the “Digital Plant” incorporating mobile applications on iPads for Equipment Inspections, Work Orders, and Warehouse/Inventory Management. Below, we list the benefits they have realized in addition to getting rid of paper:

Asset Management/Plant Operations

  • Automated the complete process –standardized process across Kaneka
  • Increased compliance
  • Increased safety
  • Increased Rounds productivity
  • Estimated to Reduce Maintenance Costs
  • Increase in Safety and Compliance
  • Time savings/Increase in productivity

Warehouse/Inventory Management

  • Reduced time and effort in Physical Inventory counting
  • Reduced data admin costs due to On-demand stock information and easy and accurate material movements
  • Reduced time and effort in Physical Inventory counting
  • Material Issues and Returns more accurate leading to savings in time

WEL Networks: WEL is an electric utility based in New Zealand, and they provided a digital experience for their employees by deploying mobile apps for Windows 8 tablets to perform Field Service on their equipment located across the country. Benefits reported by WEL in addition to getting rid of paper are as follows:

  • Efficiency gain in inspections: more inspections are done
  • Lower administrative effort: more time for other tasks
  • Field technicians doing the job employed for staff retention
  • Timely data capture: better information available sooner

Conclusion

Actual customer feedback points to the fact that the Digital Experience for the Employee increases communication, collaboration, and automation of business processes. This reduces costs and increases employee retention.  Employees feel more empowered, and happier employees stay longer. In many cases, it also enhances the Digital Experience for the Customer.  For example, a paperless office that may be viewed as a Digital Experience for Employees initiative can equally impact the Customer Service process.  The digital data captured and analyzed can lead to tailor-made learning opportunities for an employee over their lifetime. Employees can make better and real-time decisions that bestow a competitive advantage over their employers.

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