NCIS creates WhatsApp chatbot for women at risk of breast cancer

November 7, 2021
NCIS creates WhatsApp chatbot for women at risk of breast cancer

The National University Cancer Institute, Singapore (NCIS) has developed a WhatsApp chatbot service to help women who are suspected of having a genetic predisposition to or are at high risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome (HBOC) to better understand and manage their condition.

Angie, the NCIS Engage WhatsApp Education Bot (Angie), was created in partnership with Singapore health tech AI (artificial intelligence) startup Bot MD, to enable better access to genetic counselling: Currently, those at risk of HBOC are referred directly to the clinic for a lengthy genetic counselling session to help them understand the pros and cons of genetic testing and discuss recommended preventive options with an expert. Women can instead use the chatbot service to learn about HBOC and how genetic testing can help, before they attend their first genetic counselling session at the NCIS Cancer Genetics Clinic.

Women can also use the chatbot to complete their family medical history for risk assessment at their convenience.

Angie the chatbot automates the collecting of family medical records in the form of “bite-sized modules” delivered through WhatsApp. Patients can choose to complete these modules after which the chatbot will send over more information about HBOC, cancer genetic testing, and the process of counselling, complemented with visual aids such as infographics and videos.

Angie has also been trained to respond to frequently asked questions across topics like causes of genetic inheritance of HBOC, screening, risk-reducing strategies, and genetic testing cost.

“Genetic testing is increasingly recognised as an important consideration in the management of breast cancer patients and family members who are suspected to have HBOC. However, there is still a significant lack of awareness and misconceptions among the public which needs to be addressed by genetic counselling,” said Dr Samuel Ow, consultant at NCIS Department of Haematology-Oncology.

“Angie the chatbot allows us to reach out to patients early, and provide targeted education so that they come for their consultation better-informed and ready to decide on the next step.”

Category: Features, Technology & Devices

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