Baidu, commonly known in the West as the “Google of China”, is a behemoth search engine company worth billions of dollars. No wonder they’ve entered the chatbot space for healthcare with their offering Melody, a virtual medical chatbot inside the Baidu Doctor app for iOS and Android (currently only available in China).

One common problem doctor’s have with patients is that they often aren’t clear on their own symptoms before booking appointments or seeking medical treatment. Melody the Baidu bot seeks to solve this problem by chatting with patients in an interactive way and helping them articulate their symptoms at the necessary level of detail for physicians.

 

baidu bot

 

Andrew Ng, Baidu’s Chief Scientist in their Silicon Valley research center, previously founded Coursera and teaches computer science at Stanford University. “What we found when operating Baidu Doctor is that when a patient asks a question, often the initial query doesn’t have enough information for a doctor to make the most confident decision. Melody asks those additional questions and as they’re generated by AI, they’re reactive, responding to what you’ve already said,” explains Ng.

Ng says the bot is powered by natural language processing and deep learning algorithms which Baidu has developed over many years. The Baidu bot interacts with millions of Chinese users, giving the technical team plenty of data to refine Melody’s conversational ability.

Baidu definitely wants to expand beyond their Chinese market to other parts of the world. According to Ng: “We are in discussion with healthcare services around the world, including Europe and the US. We’re interested in helping with healthcare globally.”

Baidu Doctor is only available in China, but if you live there, you can download the iOS app here. Otherwise you can read English language coverage of the chatbot on Verge or Recode.

Are you in China and a user of Baidu Doctor? We’d love to hear your insights as to whether Melody has been helpful for you. Leave your comments below.