Genetic Testing Chatbot for Natera Inc.

Healthcare chatbot that guides and educates patients about genetic testing and helps patients get reliable information faster and more conveniently.

Client: Natera Inc., USA

Technology:  Java, BotsCrew Platform, BotsCrew Bot Framework, DialogFlow

Industry:  Healthcare

Platform: Web-based

Introduction

Our client is a global leader in cell-free DNA (cfDNA) testing that has been offering genetic testing for more than 10 years. The company offers proprietary testing services to physicians, researchers, and clinicians in women's health, transplant and cancer, and genetic laboratories through its cloud-based software platform. With more than 1300 employees in 90 countries, the company has already performed millions of cfDNA tests.

Challenge

Too few genetics professionals exist to meet the increased demand for genetic information that has accompanied the expanding availability of genetic tests.

Millions of people take genetic tests every year, and the number is rapidly growing. Sometimes patients have to wait days or even weeks after receiving their test results to talk to a genetic counselor. Healthcare companies and providers are struggling to meet patients' needs for genetic information. Once patients have begun a genetic testing journey, they want access to genetic testing results as quickly as possible. Undergoing genetic testing can be confusing or even frightening for some patients. Moreover, the test results are often very complicated. Patients struggle to understand the results on their own, and they need an explanation from a genetic counselor or other trusted source. A critical need exists to expand the ways patients can get information from easy to access and reliable sources.

This need is why our client contacted us – to help them address their patient growth by providing high-quality genetic information to more patients in a scalable way.

Solution: 

Natera, Inc. decided to develop a healthcare chatbot that will assist the company in delivering genetic education. The chatbot would guide and educate patients about genetic testing and help patients get reliable information faster and more conveniently. In addition, it will give the company a competitive advantage in the Healthcare market, which is vital for businesses today.

Development:

The development started with idea discussion and planning. Together with our client, we discussed their needs, goals, and challenges. We outlined the work scope, created a roadmap with the milestones, and approved the estimate.

We decided to start small and build a Proof of Concept (POC) to validate the chatbot idea. The company loved the POC, and we began developing it into a full version of the chatbot. 

We started by outlining the initial chatbot flow and conversational design based on the documentation that the company provided. We created chatbot’s workflow on our platform to address patients' needs on multiple products and streamline the customer inquiry process. For the first version, we decided to focus on these areas, but in the near future, the chatbot will be able to perform many other functions including pre-test education, information gathering, and risk assessments. When the first version of the flow was approved with the client, we moved on to the actual coding.

We integrated the chatbot workflow into a web-based platform – the company’s patient portal. We used our platform and customized it by adding custom integrations and functionality to the platform to cover all of our client’s needs. With our Platform the client can:

– edit,
– train,
– update,
– and analyze chatbot results on the go without developers and coding

The company's current patients can log in to the portal and chat with the bot to discuss specific genetic test results. 

The pre-test flow was created to provide patients with information about specific tests. This flow educates and informs patients about the test in general, about the procedure, and who will benefit from this test. Anyone can create a patient account and talk with the chatbot to learn more about a particular genetic test. 

Post-test functionality allows patients to discover and understand what test results mean in detail. If needed, the patient can schedule a session with a genetic counselor for a more in-depth explanation. This flow is designed for the company's patients to enable round-the-clock access to information and to help the counselors save time explaining the initial results and invest more in complicated tasks and test results.

The communication process with the client has been fantastic. We had regular stand-ups and demo video calls, and have been sharing documents through Google Docs and Diagrams.net diagrams to keep everyone up-to-date. We were able to deliver the product on time and achieve great results due to such excellent communication. 

Results:

The company is pleased with the final product, the platform, the product’s ease-of-use, and the ability to tweak the chatbot without additional development work. The company has launched the chatbot to over 1000 providers and is adding new locations all the time.

Currently, there are more than 1000 chats with the bot, and the success rate is over 65%, which means that most of the patients that start the interaction complete the whole chatbot flow. These results show that most of the patients self-assisted their needs for the test results explanation which saved valuable counselor’s time. Given these results, Natera can help providers meet the demand for genetic information and expand remote access to genetics services in a scalable way. The chatbot is an effective way to address the limitations of genetic counselor availability, triage cases by complexity, reduce wait time barriers, and extend fast and accurate services to more patients.

Now, together with the client’s team, we are working on the next versions of the chatbot to increase patient engagement, develop new functionalities and expand the suite of products.

“The team is communicative, flexible, and skilled. BotsCrew is always easy to work with and delivers user-friendly solutions.” Associate Director, Natera Inc.

The tests described have been developed and their performance characteristics determined by the CLIA-certified laboratory performing the test. The tests have not been cleared or approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Although FDA is exercising enforcement discretion of premarket review and other FDA legal requirements for laboratory-developed tests in the US, certification of the laboratory is required under CLIA to ensure the quality and validity of the tests. CAP-accredited, ISO 13485 certified, and CLIA certified. © 2020 Natera, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

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