BEIJING – Baidu, China’s leading search engine, has launched an AI-powered conversational bot that can help patients navigate their symptoms and find quick answers to their questions.
“Our goal is to provide patients with an online experience that is close to a human conversation,” said Wei Fan, senior director in Baidu’s Big Data Lab.
The bot, named Melody, is designed to save time in online discussions between doctors and patients, and provide relevant, contextual information to doctors to help with recommendations and treatment options.
“By focusing on the medical assistant space, we’ve built a conversational bot that can give highly customized and situation-appropriate responses to a patient’s query,” said Andrew Ng, Baidu’s chief scientist.
Melody incorporates advanced deep learning and natural language processing technologies developed by Baidu. It integrates with the Baidu Doctor app, which allows patients to ask doctors direct questions, book appointments online and search for health care-related information.
When a patient opens Baidu Doctor to ask a question, Melody asks additional context-relevant questions to clarify information such as the duration, severity and frequency of symptoms. It can also ask about additional symptoms possibly related to the condition but not initially mentioned by the patient, which can help the physician make an informed decision about whether or not to recommend an immediate appointment or other treatment. Melody can also suggest possible treatment options directly to the doctor.
Developers expect Melody to increase doctor productivity and enable patients to get answers to their health-related questions faster.
“We expect to see AI used in many different ways throughout the medical industry as AI capabilities continue to improve,” said Zheng Li, general manager of Baidu’s Medical Services Business Unit.