Consumer-Powered Healthcare is pivotal to achieving Universal Health Coverage and ensuring even the hardest-to-reach populations can choose affordable and accessible health services. But to get there, consumers need tools to take their health into their hands, including on-demand access to credible, confidential and personalized health information.
For that, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a gamechanger.
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Research shows that low-income people delay visiting health facilities due to the amount of time needed off-work resulting to the loss of income and high out-of-pocket fees. In Vietnam, for example, female factory workers are particularly affected and represent most of the working population. In 2015, research indicated that almost seven in 10 female factory workers had had gynecological and sexually transmitted infections, however only one in two sought care at health facilities. Many turn to traditional healers, instead.
These women need options for efficient, affordable, and accessible health services.
In partnership with Babylon Health, PSI launched a free digital self-care product to offer consumers access to AI-powered diagnosis through Babylon’s symptom checker and access to nearby health facilities, outlets and pharmacies through PSI’s Location Services tool.
In Vietnam and with funding from the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, we teamed up with tech partner Babylon Health to develop AIOI (“Hi AI”), an AI-powered symptom checker and locator tool. It’s accessible via smartphone and internet browsers. The AI-powered symptom checker walks users through steps to determine a potential diagnosis. The locator tool then links them to quality and affordable care. It’s the prep work of an in-person provider consult for free and all from the palm of their hands.
This reduces misinformation, eliminates stigmatization, reduces time wastage from travel to health facilities and promotes access to personalized health care giving the consumers control over their health journey. An analytics dashboard is made readily available to health managers to strengthen health programming and better understand health consumers’ experiences – beginning with the AI tool all the way to their in-person visits.
AIOI launched in Vietnam where access to quality, affordable health services are few, and smartphone use is high.
Within 6 months, online and offline promotional campaigns drove 151,308 people to the AIOI website. A total of 2,406 users signed up with the home page, and 5,100 symptom checker flows were started. 48.4% of users completed the symptom checker flow, and 94.1% were signposted to nearby health facilities. Consumers are following the intended design flow, consulting the symptom checker first before signposting to nearby health facilities. However, data also shows a need to adapt the design further to increase sign-up and completion rates by allowing signing up with more platforms.
Focus Group Discussions (FGD) and Key Informant Interviews showed positive consumers’ feedback:
“The webpage is beautiful. Everything is very clear. There are many functions and have phone number for asking questions too.” — (Female FGD participant, Bac Ninh)
“AIOI is very helpful and convenient because we can’t receive phone call all the time. With this app, I can use it whenever I want and receive suggested information about my health status.” — (Female FGD participant)
Findings from operational research suggest that gender (female), having a symptom, and having offline support from outreach workers on first engagements would motivate the use of AIOI. More investments are needed for further raise brand awareness and inclusion of provider’s quality rating in the Provider Locator tool.
The AIOI has also represented a good learning opportunity from a technology point of view, being this an integration of Babylon’s Symptom Checker tool with PSI’s Provider Locator made possible thanks to standards based on Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), and this integration offered on a webpage. Technical learning is detailed in this brief.
We’ve seen how AI-powered tools can reduce the burden on health facilities and support consumers everywhere to get the on-demand tools needed to take their health into their hands. We’re committed to scaling this work – and we’d love for you to join.