The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has put tremendous pressure on health care systems. Healthcare systems are experiencing pressure not only for critical care but from anxious public looking for answers.
In a research work carried out at the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University finds that chatbots working for reputed organizations can ease the burden of medical providers. And, can offer reliable guidance to those with symptoms. Chatbots are software applications that carry out online chats via text-to-speech or text.
To validate the efficacy of chatbots, researchers carried out an online experiment with 371 participants. The participants viewed a COVID-19 screening chat between a hotline agent – human or chatbot – and a user with mild or serious symptoms.
Online Screening Experiment validates Efficacy of Chatbots
During the session, the researchers examined if chatbots were persuasive, provided satisfying information that is likely to be followed. The results showed some negative bias against the ability of chatbots, perhaps because of recent press reports. However, when the perceived ability is same, chatbots were reported to be more positive than human agents. This is a good news for healthcare organizations that are struggling to satisfy user demand for screening services.
Meanwhile, the ability of the agent is the primary factor that drives user response to screen hotlines – chatbot or human. When ability of chatbot or human agent is same, users view chatbots same, or rather more positive than human agents.
Earlier, before the pandemic, chatbots were recognized as a technology that could increase the speed how people interact with researchers and obtain medical information online.
“Because chatbots can be scaled up, they can serve an unexpected surge in demand when is paucity of qualified human agents,” wrote the authors. Also, chatbots provide round-the-clock service at a low function cost, they added.