Methods Inf Med 2018; 57(05/06): 243-252
DOI: 10.1055/s-0038-1675822
Original Article
Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Self-Anamnesis with a Conversational User Interface: Concept and Usability Study

Kerstin Denecke
1  Institute for Medical Informatics, Bern University of Applied Sciences, Bern, Switzerland
Sandra Lutz Hochreutener
2  Department of Music, Zurich University of the Arts, Zurich, Switzerland
Annkathrin Pöpel
3  Center of Psychosomatic, Sanatorium Kilchberg AG, Kilchberg, Switzerland
Richard May
1  Institute for Medical Informatics, Bern University of Applied Sciences, Bern, Switzerland
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

18 April 2018

24 July 2018

Publication Date:
15 March 2019 (online)


Objective Self-anamnesis is a procedure in which a patient answers questions about the personal medical history without interacting directly with a doctor or medical assistant. If collected digitally, the anamnesis data can be shared among the health care team. In this article, we introduce a concept for digital anamnesis collection and assess the applicability of a conversational user interface (CUI) for realizing a mobile self-anamnesis application.

Materials and Methods We implemented our concept for self-anamnesis for the concrete field of music therapy. We collected requirements with respect to the application from music therapists and by reviewing the literature. A rule-based approach was chosen for realizing the anamnesis conversation between the system and the user. The Artificial Intelligence Markup Language was exploited for encapsulating the questions and responses of the system. For studying the quality of the system and analyzing performance, humanity, effect, and accessibility of the system, we performed a usability test with 22 persons.

Results The current version of the self-anamnesis application is equipped with 63 questions on the music biography of a patient that are asked subsequently to the user by means of a chatbot conversation. The usability study showed that a CUI is a practical way for collecting anamnesis data. Users felt engaged of answering the questions and liked the human characteristics of the chatbot. They suggested to extend the conversation capabilities of the chatbot so that the system can react appropriately, in particular when the user is not feeling well.

Conclusions We could demonstrate the applicability of a CUI for collecting anamnesis data. In contrast to digital anamnesis questionnaires, the application of a CUI provides several benefits: the user can be encouraged to complete all queries and can ask clarifying questions in case something is unclear.