Northwell Health Leveraging Chatbots to Reduce Colonoscopy No-Shows

January 4, 2020

The chatbot could provide information to patients about the procedure whenever and wherever they want.

Sabina Zak, MBA

Northwell Health is leveraging an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot to reduce no-shows for patients with colonoscopy appointments.

Patients at Long Island Jewish Medical Center and Southside Hospital will have access to the personalized text- or email-based program to improve colonoscopy procedure rates. Investigators at the health system will track whether the technology impacts patient satisfaction, cancellations and no-shows, and successful completion of the procedure.

Chatbots allow health systems and providers to deliver more personalized health education and information, Sabina Zak, MBA, vice president of community health and health services research at Northwell Health, said in an interview with HCPLive®. The technology could reduce no-shows because it has the potential to improve health literacy so both patients and caregivers make more informed decisions and adhere to treatment.

The platform applies animated videos to improve learning and comprehension, Zak added.

Many patients are intimidated by colonoscopy procedures or think it will be much more unpleasant that it actually is. But the exam is potentially lifesaving.

“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,” Zak said.

The Colonoscopy Health Chat is based on Conversa Health’s chatbot platform.

Northwell already uses the chatbot technology to help reduce hospital readmissions for high-risk patients after heart attack, stroke, or other conditions. The health system also uses the AI to prevent and manage side effects for patients who undergo radiation therapy for different varieties of cancer.

Patients who use the Northwell Health Chats typically receive a notification once every 1 — 4 days, depending on their needs. The patients do not talk directly with an actual human, although responses are sent back to the patient’s Northwell Navigator.

After deliberation with her team, Northwell decided to be proactive and find a way to interact with patients in an engaging, provider-driven way, to allow patients to receive information when and where they need it, Zak said.

Other health systems have found success with chatbots as well.

Investigators at Nemours Children’s Health System used an AI behavioral coach to counsel adolescent patients enrolled in a weight management program.