We wanted to provide a digital solution for low income Americans, a 70-million people market segment that few innovators focus on. One member of our team previously was on Medicaid and testified to the challenges of using Medicaid and accessing care. With her input, we identified the needs that inspired us to create MediBot: it's hard to register, it's hard to determine if your Medicaid status is active, and it's hard to find a physician that accepts Medicaid. From the physician perspective, it is really hard to reach Medicaid users, who move and change phone numbers often.
Once we knew what we were solving for we identified the simplest way to reach our user base - Facebook - something low income users spend a huge amount of time using. Then, we got building.
What it does
MediBot is a Facebook Bot that you can message from anywhere at anytime to find out customized information about Medicaid. You can tell MediBot basic information to determine your eligibility for Medicaid. You can ask MediBot to check if your status is active, and MediBot will make an automated phone call to check for you. You can look up doctors in your area that have accepted Medicaid in the past (using BetterDoctor's API). You can schedule yourself eligibility reminders, and you can get the right number to call if you lost your card. This swiss-army-knife of information could provide more features over time once we get it out to patients and we diagnose patient needs.
How we built it
We used an API that works with the Facebook Developer Tools to enter developer flows that you want your chat bot to use. We used Python to build out our text flows.
Challenges we ran into
Dialog flow is a paid service, and we had trouble using the Facebook API.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We optimized for impact on users. We think that this Bot isn't the fanciest technology, but it's the most accessible for a large group of users and can quickly have scalable impact.
What we learned
We learned a LOT about the difficulties of using Medicaid, mostly by trying to do it ourselves and getting incredibly frustrated. It is not easy to be a Medicaid patient and this doubled down our determination to make MediBot.
What's next for MediBot
MediBot is ready for user testing! We need to get feedback from users. Once we validate our prototype, there are many other features to build out from flu shots to mental health services. We also want to take it to hospitals and county services offices to see funding sources and potential for serving their needs as well.