Meet Daphne©, a ChatBot for Pediatric Health Care

Meet Daphne©, a ChatBot for Pediatric Health Care 150 150 Madison Storm

Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI)have exploded across the worlds of marketing and commerce in recent years. At Nationwide Children’s, clinicians and researchers are focusing on how AI and related technologies can be used to reduce clinician workloads and improve patient outcomes.

Emre Sezgin, PhD, principal investigator in the Center for Biobehavioral Health at Nationwide Children’s, leads the Intelligent Futures Research Lab. He and his team are working to build a healthier future for all children and families using intelligent methods and approaches to scientific research and development.

Emre Sezgin, PhD

Dr. Sezgin believes AI can help improve the health system itself if applied strategically. His Chatbot for Social Needs project, funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), uses conversational AI to address families’ social needs, to contribute to medical records with patients’ self-reported health information and communicate with providers.

Dr. Sezgin’s team has been working diligently to test and deploy conversational AI applications for social needs identified proactively by patients or by clinicians during visits.

The project relies on a technology chatbot (named Daphne©), which uses AI-based conversation tools to communicate with natural language and intelligently provide highly relevant, service-oriented resources for patients and families.

“Daphne is iteratively designed by our team in the light of multidisciplinary stakeholders’ feedback, including primary care clinicians, nurses, social workers, researchers, family advocates and community health workers. It does social needs screening and shares personalized resources based on family needs. It also guides families on how to access the resources,” Dr. Sezgin says.

The team is currently conducting real-world testing with families with the help of the Primary Care Research Network and Primary Care Network at Nationwide Children’s. In collaboration with Micah Skeens, PhD, APRN, FAAN, the team received INSPIRE grant funding to expand the project toward addressing the social needs of families who have children with cancer, including the creation of a module to screen mental well-being and provide behavioral interventions.

“Providers can gain a more complete understanding of a patient’s needs, preferences and social determinants of health by utilizing insights from chatbots like Daphne,” says Dr. Sezgin.

Several Nationwide Children’s-based teams are studying applications of models, such as GPT-3 and GPT-4, with the goal of building useful applications for the medical world and investigating how to operationalize such tools in compliance with rules, regulations and other ethical standards.

“Technological advancements in health care, particularly in natural language processing, have the potential to revolutionize the way physicians and patients interact,
paving the way for a more personalized, efficient and effective health care experience,” says Dr. Sezgin.

About the author

Senior Strategist, Research Communications | Website

Madison Storm is the Senior Strategist of Research Communications at Nationwide Children's Hospital. She earned her bachelor's in multimedia journalism from Virginia Tech in 2021 and went on to achieve her master's in health communication from Johns Hopkins University in 2023. Her passion for transforming the complex to clear is supported by various experiences writing for consumer audiences.