AI chatbot to cut waiting times and enhance productivity at Walton Centre

The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust is developing an artificial intelligence-based (AI) chatbot that will reduce waiting times for patients, improve the patient experience, and enhance the productivity of specialists.

The digital solution, which is first being developed as a prototype, will interact with patients being referred to a neurology or headache specialist and collect details of their condition and any symptoms they have via a structured set of questions.

This information will then be used by clinicians to plan the best course of action before the patient even has their first appointment.

Depending on the clinician’s assessment, patients may be fast-tracked to a consultant or be given guidance on arresting their symptoms while they wait to see a specialist.

Crucially, this will reduce the need for specialist consultants to spend their time asking these initial questions, which will subsequently free up their time, increase their productivity as a result, and cut down waiting times for other patients.

Dr Anita Krishnan, Divisional Clinical Director for Neurology, The Walton Centre, and a Consultant Neurologist specialising in headaches, said: “Technology is a huge part of medicine and it’s exciting to work with [company] to create a new artificial intelligence-based solution which will help our patients. The chatbot system also has potential to be extended into other areas of medicine, which could benefit even more patients.

According to The Walton Centre, patients with headaches account for the largest number of referrals to neurologists, with a waiting time of three months to be seen by a specialist.

The innovation will leverage cloud native, serverless technologies and conversational AI, in order to ensure clinical safety and effectiveness.

AI is becoming more and more prevalent in the health sector as the base of digital solutions, as we discussed with Paul Burn, a consultant radiologist at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, in the latest edition of our online magazine – click here to find out more.

More information on The Walton Centre’s AI chatbot is available here.

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