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Virtual assistants and digital twins

Virtual assistants

What is a virtual assistant?

A virtual assistant (also called virtual personal assistant or intelligent personal assistant) is software that is capable of performing tasks or services at the request of an individual. Virtual assistants include chatbots, which are programs designed to converse and maintain a dialogue with humans using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP).

What can it be used for in the field of health?

Virtual assistants are capable of managing a certain number of administrative tasks and could thus be useful to healthcare structures to relieve teams and free up more time that could be devoted to the medical part. Virtual assistants are in particular capable of managing certain telephone switchboard tasks by making it possible to identify the caller, understand his or her request, answer certain questions, make appointments or initiate a relevant action by directing the caller to the appropriate services and contacts. Thanks to NLPs, they can also optimise the management of medical files and the processing of medical information, by facilitating, for example, note-taking, data recording, translation or the use of coding systems for the pricing of medical acts. In addition to administrative assistance, research is also turning towards the design of virtual assistants capable of providing new tools and support for medical purposes. These include expert systems that could help health professionals to detect and diagnose a disease or to assess the prognosis of patients, such as the risk of disease progression or the chances of therapeutic success. Virtual assistants, some of which are already available on the market, can also be useful in supporting patient care, particularly in the case of chronic diseases. They can provide patients with information on their illness and treatment, give preventive advice, accompany them, manage appointments, while providing a link with health professionals and care structures.

For more details on the applications of virtual assistants in health, you can consult the following article

Digital twins

What is a digital twin?

A digital twin is a replica of a system or process that integrates data to create a digital simulation model. With AI and Machine Learning (ML), the digital twin is able to learn and evolve as data is implemented, providing a dynamic and scalable simulation in real time.

What can it be used for in the field of health?

There is a growing interest in the use of digital twins in healthcare. By allowing the simulation of the patient’s body, the digital twin offers the possibility to assess prognosis and could be useful to better predict the response to treatment. In the field of surgery, several start-ups have emerged that offer new tools enabling healthcare professionals to model the patient’s organs in 3D and to simulate the surgical procedure in order to better anticipate and plan the operation. In the field of vascular surgery, this type of application allows the insertion and deployment of stents in the vessels to be simulated in a way that is precise and adapted to each patient on the basis of pre-operative imaging. To get an overview of these applications, here are some links to French start-ups:

Digital twins also offer interesting prospects in the field of research, for example by making it possible to virtually simulate and test the effect of a molecule in a patient’s body. This kind of in silico (virtual) approach offers new methods that complement traditional in vitro and in vivo experimental models carried out on living organisms.

In addition to the medical and scientific dimensions, digital twins could also be used to model and optimise the organisation of healthcare facilities. Research projects are currently underway to simulate and develop predictive models of patient flows and patient pathways in order to analyse and optimise the necessary means and resources.

Initially studied within a department, this type of application could then be tested throughout a healthcare structure by developing a “virtual hospital”, a digital twin of the hospital that offers a range of innovative applications for experimenting with healthcare organisations and technologies.

For more details on the applications of digital twins in health, you can consult the following article: