Improving health outcomes sooner rather than later via an interactive website and virtual specialist

Deborah Richards, Patrina Caldwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


Non-life threatening chronic health conditions can significantly reduce the quality of life for the patient and their family. Given pressure on specialist services and lengthy wait-times, we propose a novel approach that involves a website and virtual specialist for patients while they are awaiting their specialist appointment. To capture patient history and provide tailored treatment advice an interactive website was developed. To increase adherence the website was enhanced with an empathic embodied conversational agent to allow discussion of the suggested treatment. A six-month trial with 74 children with urinary incontinence showed an overall improvement in 74% of patients, with 38% those who used the program reporting a resolution of their wetting without needing a specialist appointment. Capturing the expertise of medical specialists to provide online tailored treatment advice and use of humanlike face-to-face conversations to educate and build rapport with the patient appeared to increase treatment adherence compared to an earlier text-based version without the empathic agent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1699-1706
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics
Issue number5
Early online date11 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018


  • embodied conversational agent
  • empathic agents
  • Interactive website
  • paediatric incontinence

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