Bot MD is a smartphone AI assistant app introduced by Dorothea Koh and Yan Chuan Sim in 2018, and is used by over 18,000 doctors worldwide.

It is influenced by Koh’s experience at Baxter and Medtronic — both Fortune 500 healthcare companies — in which she lived and worked in countries such as China, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Bot MD was specifically designed to “delight” doctors and nurses. By integrating different hospital information systems into a single platform, it is able to instantly provide answers to questions regarding hospital protocols, patient radiology reports, call rosters, and more.

As well as medical journals, it searches trusted resources and databases for drug formulary and availability. It even reminds doctors to report their ART test results, and — get this — jokes and gifs.

“This means the product is not only functional but also evokes emotion in the users,” says Koh, co-founder and CEO of Bot MD. “As far as balancing my left and right brains, it wasn’t difficult and I enjoyed the process.”

(Related: Medical technologies: 6 Singapore start-ups innovating in the field)

Streamlining telemedicine operations

The healthtech start-up rolled out Bot MD Care in 2020. Platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Viber use the same AI. Initially conceived to monitor vital signs and scale quality care for Covid patients among more than 3,600 migrant workers throughout Singapore, it was subsequently used by doctors to streamline telemedicine operations, so they could focus on patients who required urgent attention.

By enabling the remote monitoring of more than 500 Covid patients on home recovery using Bot MD Care, the National University Health System (NUHS) in Singapore saved over 3,500 bed days.

Since the pandemic wave has subsided, doctors and nurses in Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines are now using Bot MD Care to help patients manage a wide range of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension and kidney disease.

In April, Koh and her team were named among the winners of the World Health Organization (Western Pacific) Innovation Challenge 2022, which placed the company among the region’s forerunners in public innovative ecosystems.

(Related: Singapore’s medtech boom)

‘AI can play a crucial role in augmenting the doctor’s diagnosis’

Co-founder and CEO of Bot MD, Dorothea Koh

Koh will be adding new languages to Bot MD as the company moves closer to its goal of reaching “as many doctors and nurses as possible”, such as Thai and Vietnamese, as the company aims for regional expansion. It also plans to support more messaging platforms such as Line and WeChat, as well as other clinical conditions, including spinal injury, post- surgical monitoring, and post-IVF care.

Meanwhile, as the pandemic continues to take its toll on mental health, does Koh think AI will eventually replace counsellors and psychologists?

“Doctoring is more than a science. There is an art to doctoring which I don’t believe AI can truly replace. For example, reading a patient’s body language or the subtle cues — these are things hard for a computer to learn but a doctor can recognise them immediately,” she says.

“But I believe that AI helps play a crucial role in augmenting the doctor’s diagnosis and helping to scale patient care. Hence, we believe in designing products together with our clinicians.”

And if the Bot MD app could ask her any question, what would it be? “This is a great question!” she says with a grin. “I suppose it would be, ‘Where are you headed with me?’ And I’d reply simply: ‘To put you in the hands of as many doctors and nurses around the world as we can!’”

(Related: Dr Kevin Koo leverages new medical innovations to treat foot and ankle conditions)

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