What Chatbots Need to Succeed in Healthcare

October 24, 2017

From small operations to large-scale providers, human-first is the key to a successful chatbot platform

// By Melanie Graham //

Melanie GrahamFor Jonno Boyer-Dry, creating a chatbot for cancer patients wasn’t a project based on financial goals or institutional efficiency. It was something that emerged out of personal experience.

“Part of what is maddening about being a cancer patient is that resources and information are incredibly disaggregated,” says Boyer-Dry, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma three years ago at age 28. “We live in a world where you can order food on an app, yet you can’t find incredibly important cancer resources.”

Boyer-Dry is the co-founder and co-creator of the CancerChatbot by CSource, a Facebook Messenger-based chatbot that provides resources for cancer patients and caregivers. Along with his wife Allison, Boyer-Dry researched and crowdsourced information that can help cancer patients and their loved ones through diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship.

C Source Chatbot ImageThe user-friendly, conversational search tool allows people in the cancer community to ask important, personal questions without having to spend hours digging through webpages.

As for the types of resources the CancerChatbot links to, Boyer-Dry gives the example of Imerman Angels, an organization that matches cancer patients with a mentor of a similar age and diagnosis. This “powerful” resource is something that Boyer-Dry didn’t learn about until 18 months into his treatment.

“The information and resources just aren’t there” Boyer-Dry says. “It would have been much more powerful and helpful for me to talk to someone from Imerman Angels from day one or even month one of my diagnosis.”

Patient-Centered Thinking

For anyone creating a chatbot, the patients need to be top-of-mind, Boyer-Dry says.


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