Over the past decade we have seen an exponential growth in technology from the introduction of wireless internet, to smartphones, to nanotechnology. One particularly interesting concept is the channel shift that we are seeing in the ways in which we communicate.
What used to be 1:1 interaction has now led to the use of social media where clients are now able to reach out to businesses and social services at a click of a button. However, Social media is still too much like a broadcast channel where only simplistic interaction take place, with deeper interaction required in sectors such as health and social care. Social media may not be the prime channel to reach out to t
hese services as its publicity and lack of security are not ideal.
Therefore as businesses try to keep up with the advancement of technology, it is important that they do more with less. This is where we need to explore tech like chatbots (e.g. Healthbot’s, Edubot’s) to assist our development into the future.
What Is A Chatbot?
Chatbots are computer programmes that imitate human conversation through the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning. They range on a spectrum with simplistic bots who only recognise and respond to keywords found in a huge database, to those that incorporate the use of sophisticated Natural Language Processing systems who are very much indistinguishable from humans.
Chatbots Are Becoming More Commonplace
- ‘DoNotPay’- A robot lawyer that offers free legal aid to refugees seeking asylum in USA and Canada, helping them to fill out immigrant applications and helping people to apply for asylum support in the UK. This benefits people who might find it challenging to get started and empowers legal aid organisations by assisting with large numbers of clients.
- Xiaoice – A chinese chatbot built by microsoft that speaks to over 20 million people, serving as a ‘friend’. Many see her as a friend, just as they would a real human. The conversations with Xiaoice are so human-like, it creates a new goal for artificial intelligence to make people happier.
- Poncho – A Weather Forecaster- A funny and witty bot, capable of sending personalised weather and astrological predictions.
Challenges of Chatbots in Healthcare
Chatbots in healthcare may have to make clinical decisions, requiring stringent measures to maintain safety as it would become classified as a clinical device. For example, a healthcare chatbot may suggest when and how much medication to take. This requires professional advice from a doctor and if given incorrectly by a bot, could pose damage to patients. This then becomes a “human error” issue which someone would have to be responsible for.
There are also issues related to the level of trust between bots and patients as their interaction lacks the physicality and the connection created when patients meet 1:1 with their doctors. Therefore, patients may not feel as content or confident with the advice provided to them.
Lastly, should chatbots become successful and common practice in the medical profession, they could replace jobs such as nurses. Human resource could be replaced by artificial intelligence.
Future of Chatbots
As technology continues to advance, so will the intelligence of our chatbots; they will be used more frequently in a larger range of services to the point where in 2020, it is predicted that 85% of customer interactions will be managed without a human. Modern chatbots will be able to sustain emotional and in-depth conversations with humans in the same way that humans interact with each other, creating personal connections and serving as practical assistants. Chatbots could become our doctors, accountants, and maybe even our personal stylists and friends.
Bitjam is researching and developing chatbots both in healthcare and education with an early version currently being tested in a healthcare setting. We have developed an early version that uses end-to-end encryption with powerful software behind the bot that allows clinicians to programme the logic required for patients to interact and manage their health. However the key focus here is to allow clinicians to programme the chatbots rather than build an artificial intelligence system to make key clinical decisions.
The UK Government Are Wrong in Reducing the Use of Encryption
Are tech companies doing enough to beat cyber-crime? This question is a hot topic in the tech world right now, as the UK government increases pressure to find effective ways to tackle online communication between hackers and extremists. This blog post is going to look at the explosion of the ‘Internet of Things’, the relevancy of encryption in the healthcare sector and the importance of enabling technology that will help make the people and physical systems of the world, smarter and more efficient.
The Internet of Things
The ‘Internet of Things’ is the interconnectivity of physical devices such as smartphones, WiFi modems and software, to the internet. IoT is a big revolution for the World Wide Web, due to the wide range of applications and variety of useful software solutions it provides, from anything from smart homes to monitoring radiation levels in nuclear plants. However, due to the nature of such devices, they are prone to hacks that either commandeer the device and program them to do something they’re not intended to do, or they can be controlled to do what they’re meant to but in a devious way.
“When nodes in wireless sensor networks are monitored through internet it becomes a part of Internet of Things. This brings in a lot of concerns related to security, privacy, standardization, power management” – ieeexplore.com
What Is Encryption?
End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is a system of communication where only authorised parties users can read the messages. For example, companies that use E2EE are unable to hand over texts of their customers’ messages to the authorities. A good example of this is the mobile messaging service Telegram. Telegram messages are delivered faster than any other application, are heavily encrypted and can self-destruct.
However, the UK government’s desire to gain more control on encryption would have negative consequences on the tech world as we need this technology to actually develop safer apps and to prevent the compromisation of the IoT. The optimistic outlook of the IoT versus the security threats is a risk worth taking if it enables us to continue to develop solutions to tackle hacking.
Security is the backbone of the internet, which is the reason we need passwords to access our accounts. By enforcing laws on encryption, the UK government would effectively be able to access to your personal information even potentially data from connected devices.
We have to find a balance between national security issues and safety and security of data traffic in healthcare. Healthcare data encryption is used to protect patient confidentiality when information such as medical diagnoses, surgeries and other highly sensitive data is shared between practitioners and other healthcare authorities to provide an effective service to patients.
Many companies building innovative technologies to improve security are using encryption, and as in most areas of IT and computing, innovation in security springs mostly from startup companies, so enforcing encryption laws would also negatively affect small, creative businesses who actually play a pivotal role in successfully discovering, testing, and building out clever new ways to secure cyberspace.
In summary, as much as banking apps need encryption to prevent cybercrime, health apps need encryption to maintain security and privacy. We need to maintain confidence in the sharing of personal data via technologies by further exploring and developing ways to tackle security issues, using the technology of data encryption. Allowing Governments access via backdoors compromises patient confidentiality, and would be damaging to the progress of improving cyberspace privacy.
We’re proud to become an official provider of software and app development services for the Keele University Business Bridge programme.
What is the Business Bridge programme?
Staffordshire-based businesses within the healthcare markets can access funded specialist support, particularly services in technical and scientific advice, collaborative working on R&D projects and design, testing and validation of products. The expertise and facilities at Keele University can help you to gain a competitive advantage, granting a £7000 innovation fund to get a provider consultation.
The partnership between Keele University and University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust allows local eligible businesses to benefit from the expert advice, collaborative working and specialist facilities available from all of the organisations involved.
In order to qualify to provide this service, Keele have to have a number of preferred suppliers to provide services such as marketing and software design. Bitjam have been selected due to our extensive experience working on global healthcare tech solutions.
Collaborating with Local Business
We fit the required criteria because of our considerable knowledge and expertise in designing and collaborating on relevant projects in the health and social care industry.
Our strengths include using an agile methodology and co-production techniques to ensure the most efficient processes and have a team of full stack developers to carry out both front-end and back-end tasks, meaning deadlines are met on time and work is of a continuously high standard.
We’re looking forward to working collaboratively on some innovative new projects, bringing our experiences from the healthcare sector and effective ways of working to partner with other businesses in the local area.
If you’d like to know more about the programme, email Kylie Salmon here.