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Say nǐ hǎo to Novo Nordisks new Chinese-language chatbot for people with diabetes

More than one-fourth of the world’s diabetes patients live in China—and Novo Nordisk wants to give them a better way to ask questions and get information. It’s partnering with Microsoft to create a Chinese-language AI chatbot, set to launch early next year on the Danish drugmaker’s digital patient support platforms.

The artificially intelligent chatbot will help deliver relevant information in both voice and text to the country’s massive diabetes population of 129 million—many of whom face difficulties managing their condition. Fewer than 16% of people control their disease well because of late diagnosis, poor medical attention or just not understanding the best ways to keep the disease in check, Microsoft and Novo Nordisk said in a press release.

Novo Nordisk hopes the chatbot will “provide answers to patients’ everyday questions and allow them to be more aware and prepared to cope with the disease and live a better quality life.”

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RELATED: Say hello to Sophia, Novo Nordisk’s new online chatbot, available 24/7 for diabetes questions

“Novo Nordisk has witnessed how diabetes has become one of the world’s biggest health challenges,” Christine Zhou, SVP and president of Novo Nordisk Region China, said, adding that “innovations in medicine should be accompanied by a patient-centric philosophy that extends to empowering patients to manage their disease.”

Novo Nordisk is no stranger to AI chatbots. Its American version, Sophia—which is bilingual in Spanish—has been noted as an industry standard. Sophia has been chatting with Novo’s diabetes patients on the company’s Cornerstones4Care website since 2018.

RELATED: How did Novo Nordisk’s Sophia chatbot become a pharma industry standard? Empathy, timing and relevance: experts

“All industries, including healthcare, are accelerating their pace of digital transformation by using digital technologies to respond to, and recover from, this pandemic,” Alain Crozier, Microsoft’s corporate VP, chairman and CEO of the Greater China Region, said.

Pharma is not alone in embracing AI and chatbots in particular, with an anticipated $4.5 billion invested in chatbots in 2021, according to Opus Research.

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