Northwell Health deploys chatbot to reduce colonoscopy no-shows

The conversational AI technology, based on Conversa Health’s automated platform, can help inform and calm apprehensions about the invasive procedure, and reduce appointment cancellations.
By Mike Miliard
04:21 PM
Northwell Health deploys chatbot to reduce colonoscopy no-shows

A personalized chatbot is helping dispel patients' concerns about colonoscopy appointments – and also helping lower appointment no-show rates – at Northwell Health.

WHY IT MATTERS
Deployed at Long Island Jewish Medical Center and Southside Hospital, the technology, Colonoscopy Health Chat is based on Conversa Health's automated conversation platform and is offered via text or email.

Northwell is an investor in Conversa, and uses its health chat technology in a variety of patient outreach use cases. Several new chat programs are planned for other patient populations in the coming year.

This chatbot will be offered to all patients who book appointments for colonoscopies at LIJ Medical Center and Southside Hospital. Researchers will then track its impact on patient satisfaction, cancellations and no-show rates – as well as successful completion of the exam, which requires thorough pre-exam colon cleansing.

The chat technology offers information about why that preparation is needed, and explains how to accomplish it as comfortably and effectively as possible.

THE LARGER TREND
Northwell notes that colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths, but many people who make an appointment for colonoscopies either cancel it or fail to show up. It cities studies showing that as many as 40% of these patients from vulnerable or disadvantaged populations don't follow-through on the exam.

The Colonoscopy Health Chat uses artificial intelligence to help address misunderstandings and concerns about the exam – offering important information in a responsive and conversational way. In addition to giving date and location reminders, the chats (in both English and Spanish) can help remind patients about the benefits of the test, and explain and what to expect before, during and after the procedure.

Conversa's Conversational AI platform has been deployed across Northwell – which is also currently at work with Allscripts on a redesigned AI-powered electronic health record – in many other areas, including Transitions of Care Post Discharge, Radiation Oncology (Head, Neck, Breast, Prostate), Bariatric Surgery, Complete Joint Replacement, Emergency Medicine / ED Discharge, Colorectal Surgery, Urology Surgery, Women’s Health, Telehealth, Pediatrics and Community Health.

ON THE RECORD
"Colonoscopy is a powerful and potentially life-saving procedure, but many people are intimidated or think it will be much more unpleasant than it really is," said Sabina Zak, Northwell Health’s vice president of community health and health services research.

"The colonoscopy health chat platform is a flexible, scalable solution that improves health literacy and gives patients the information they need whenever they need it, so that they feel comfortable and motivated to get screened," Zak explained.

"Health literacy is a strong determinant of wellness among vulnerable populations," she added. "By helping patients understand their treatment and the reasons for it, we think the colonoscopy health chat will enable more patients to get the care they need and deserve."

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com

Healthcare IT News is a publication of HIMSS Media.

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