AI assistant helps patients book flu vaccines

By Leila Hawkins
The virtual assistant has enabled over 1,000 people to book vaccinations without having to call their doctor...

An AI-driven virtual assistant has helped over 1,000 patients book flu vaccinations in the UK. 

Sensely, a digital healthcare company, is behind the Ask NHS virtual assistant, used by patients of the National Health Service (NHS). As part of a pilot project the platform is letting people book flu appointments directly from the app, 24 hours a day every day of the week, without waiting in phone queues. 

The pilot is running in collaboration with three doctor's practices in England. In some clinics, as many as 40 per cent of patients have taken advantage of the tool. 

Ask NHS launched in 2017 for users to check symptoms, book appointments, access self-care resources, and connect with live video consultations. It was designed in partnership with NHS nurses, enabling people to get the information they need and make appointments without having to call their clinic. 

It also allows high-risk patients to be prioritised based on symptoms or underlying health issues, improving access to vaccinations for vulnerable patients while easing the strain on healthcare providers.                               

Sensely say that as well as freeing up doctors and nurses’ time, the app reduces NHS costs per patient by around 14 per cent.  

“The Ask NHS app has been invaluable in allowing us to streamline our operations during the COVID-19 pandemic” said Dr Arun Notaney, a doctor at Premier Medical Centre in London. 

“Giving patients the ability to book via the app, rather than calling, has really improved the patient journey, and left our phone lines clear for patients who need to speak to a doctor rather than just to book a flu jab.” 

Sensely and NHS are now developing similar programs in preparation for the COVID-19 vaccination's general roll-out in early 2021.

“During the pandemic, more people than ever are getting flu shots, but that places an enormous strain on clinics, and those challenges will only increase as we roll out COVID-19 vaccines” says Sensely CEO Adam Odessky. 

“Our top priority, now and always, is to support the NHS and ensure patients get vaccinations quickly and easily. By using next-gen digital tools as part of an omnichannel strategy, we’re empowering patients to take ownership of their healthcare journey, and protect their families while easing the burden on hardworking doctors and nurses. ”  


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