Chatbots and mobile phones help to achieve quality healthcare

TNH Health already monitors around 100,000 patients through a chatbot platform. This “virtual health care” system combines Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing.

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TNH Health already monitors around 100,000 patients through a chatbot platformThis “virtual health care” system combines Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing

“There are 200 million people living in Brazil, and everybody has a mobile phone, so there is something that can be done to improve public health”. This thought was the seed of an idea that has become a reality in the form of TNH Health, which is already monitoring the health of more than 100,000 people in the Latin American country. One of its co-creators, the young Canadian economist Michael Kapps, defines it as a “virtual health care” tool.

The company has developed an innovative solution for healthcare in Brazil, and it is based on a team of chatbots that improves primary care of the population through brief conversations by SMS or instant messaging applications such as WhatsApp or Facebook, which almost all mobile phones have. “The bots are designed to educate and monitor patients, to send prescriptions, advice or information”, explains Kapps.

When patients report certain symptoms or problems, the robot sends an alert to the nurse or doctor that will treat them. In this way, the economist indicates, it is possible that “a nurse could be monitoring 3,000 users at once”, whether they be pregnant women, diabetics or people affected by tropical diseases such as dengue fever or the zika virus. The bot learns and personalises the service thanks to a combination of technologies, Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and a natural language processing system based on IBM’s processor Watson.

This economist, who was born in Russia but has Canadian nationality, and who studied at Harvard University (Boston, USA), was shocked to learn how healthcare works in emerging countries such as Ghana and Brazil, where he had done some volunteer work. His obsession took him back to the Latin American country to found TNH Health with the Brazilian lawyer Juliano Froehner. This project would see him winning one of the Innovators Under 35 Latin America awards from MIT Technology Review in Spanish magazine.

The clinics, large insurance companies, public services and hospitals that are clients of TNH Health register users from all corners of Brazil, from the Amazon jungle to São Paulo, and by doing so they are reducing waiting times at health centres. In addition, Kapps’ expectations are being met: “I think that society prospers if each individual has the freedom to pursue their passions and spend time with the people they love”.

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