The National University Cancer Institute, Singapore (NCIS) has partnered Singapore health tech AI startup Bot MD to launch an interactive artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot service on WhatsApp, named “Angie”, as part of the NCIS ENGAGE (ExpandiNG Access to Genetic counsElling) project.
Angie aims to help transform the genetic counselling process for patients who are suspected of having a genetic predisposition or at high risk of Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) syndrome by making it easier for them to learn about the syndrome and the role of genetic testing prior their first genetic counselling at the clinic, and to complete their family medical history for risk assessment at their convenience.
At present, patients at risk of HBOC are referred to the NCIS Cancer Genetics Clinic for a genetic counselling session to help them understand the pros and cons of genetic testing and discuss recommended preventive options with an expert. Prior to their visit, a genetic counsellor will conduct a routine call to collect the patient’s family medical history needed for risk assessment. This call can sometimes take up to an hour as it requires the patient to have all of their family’s cancer history on hand.
During the initial counselling session, many patients may also feel overwhelmed by the amount of information provided and may not be able to make a decision to undergo genetic testing. Multiple consultations may be required, which is made more difficult by limitations due to the COVID-19 situation.
Angie helps to improve this patient experience by automating the collection of family medical history for risk assessment in the form of bite-sized modules delivered through WhatsApp. Patients can choose to complete their family medical history at their own convenience when they have the essential information on hand. Upon the completion of each module, the chatbot will send patients more information about HOBC, cancer genetic testing and the process of genetic counselling in the form of educational videos and infographics to help with the explanation.
The chatbot has also been trained on frequently asked questions including topics such as the causes of genetic inheritance of HBOC, screening and risk reducing strategies, as well as the cost of genetic testing.
In line with the increase of telemedicine services amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Angie will provide an avenue to support patients who have questions about HBOC and genetic testing. Members of the public who would like to learn more about HBOC can start their journey with Angie via the NCIS Cancer Genetics Clinic webpage.
NCIS hopes to extend this chatbot service to other countries in Asia so as to help more patients who are at risk of HBOC to better understand and manage their condition.
Angie's interface comes with buttons that offer helpful suggestions to patients.DOWNLOAD
Angie simplifies the process for patients by breaking up the collection of family history into bite-sized modules that can be conveniently accessed through WhatsApp.DOWNLOAD
Angie is designed to intuitively answer patients' free-text questions that are typed in WhatsApp.DOWNLOAD
Bot MD is a Y-Combinator backed startup with the mission of Empowering Doctors around the world. The company’s proprietary A.I. chat engine integrates a wide variety of hospital information systems to provide instant answers to doctor and patient queries. Bot MD can also power any consumer messaging platform such as WhatsApp, Telegram, Viber etc. to provide patients with home monitoring care and access to hospital services. Since 2018, Bot MD has been used by over 18,000 clinicians globally including the National University HealthSystem, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Changi General Hospital and Parkway Radiology.
The National University Cancer Institute, Singapore (NCIS) offers a broad spectrum of cancer care and management covering both paediatric and adult cancers, with expertise in prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care. The Institute’s strength lies in the multi-disciplinary approach taken to develop a comprehensive and personalised plan for each cancer patient and his or her family. Our award-winning clinician-scientists and clinician-investigators conduct translational research and clinical trials, providing patients with access to evidence-based cancer diagnostics, technology and therapies. For more information about NCIS, please visit www.ncis.com.sg.