‘Ask Oli’ chatbot starts AI revolution in children’s healthcare

A child talks to a doctor in his office, with his parents in the background

A groundbreaking collaboration is harnessing the power of intelligent computing to personalise healthcare and enhance patient experience.

Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool treats more than 275,000 children and young people each year. Renowned for its commitment to clinical excellence and patient experience, the hospital is aiming to become the UK’s first ‘cognitive hospital’ using intelligent computing technology to enhance the patient experience.

About the project

To turn this aspiration into a reality, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Hartree Centre is developing ways to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) into the hospital using IBM Watson, a computer system that can answer questions posed in everyday language.

Working closely with healthcare professionals at Alder Hey, the Hartree Centre’s AI and data experts are tailoring and training Watson based on the hospital’s needs.

The first step was gathering new and existing data to enable Watson to understand how the hospital works and develop a knowledge base. This data has been used to create the chatbot ‘Ask Oli’, using the hospital’s mascot elephant character.

Ask Oli interacts and answers questions in real time, reducing patient and family concerns in a way that is both innovative and fun.

Impacts of the project

Through this project, the Hartree Centre is helping Alder Hey to build a path towards more personalised treatment, enhanced health outcomes, increased patient satisfaction and significant cost savings.

At Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, the initial focus is on making medical treatment less daunting for children and their parents or carers. By providing information and reassurance through apps and avatars, the project is one example of how AI technology could result in happier, healthier children. By putting patient engagement at the heart of their treatment in a new and unique way, the project is providing a new template for the future of healthcare.

“We’re really enthusiastic and excited, but clear that the technology itself has to be useful and deliver benefits to patients,” says Iain Hennessey, Clinical Director of Innovation at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

“It’s one of the reasons we’re happy to work with organisations like the Hartree Centre and IBM, because they can match our clinical expertise and patient knowledge with their groundbreaking technology.”

Ask Oli helps to:

  • reduce anxiety for children and families
  • enhance the patient experience
  • give doctors more time to spend with their patients.

It also has the potential to improve healthcare services across the UK.

Find out more

Learn more about the Hartree Centre, which was created to transform industry by accelerating the adoption of high performance computing, big data analytics and AI technologies.

Top image:  A child with his mother talk to a doctor in his office. Credit: Getty Images.

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