Technology Review reports that patients prefer virtual doctors over real ones because the patients didn’t feel “rushed or talked down to.” Researchers at Northeastern University in Boston, have developed the virtual healthcare professionals and found that patients are more likely to know their diagnosis and make follow up appointments after having been ‘cared for’ by their computerized attendant.
“We try to present something that is not just an information exchange but is a social exchange,” says Timothy Bickmore, associate professor in Northeastern’s College of Computer and Information Science. Bickmore led the research. “It expresses empathy if the patient is having problems, and patients seem to resonate with that.”
More and more patients are feeling disgruntled with their healthcare experience. There is a shortage of nurses in many areas throughout the United States, a culture that encouragesdoctors to pack in as many patients in a day and prescribe them more medicine, and health insurance companies that are paying for less and less of one’s medical bills. A virtual professional who delivers all the benefits of a knowledgeable caregiver but none of the disadvantages of today’s healthcare problems is proving to be more and more appealing to those seeking medical help
The results of the study are currently under review for publication.