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Don't Just Send Messages, Build a Bot

Mohseni, Alex MD

doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000581524.62438.68
Doc ApprovED

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Building AI-powered bots is all the rage, and options abound for non-coders to develop their own. These bots can be built on many different platforms, such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, but we all know that SMS is still king, at least in the United States. My favorite tool for building and experimenting with my own bots on SMS is TextIt. (http://textit.in.) TextIt is more of an algorithmic bot platform than an AI-powered one, but it has features that allow you to incorporate AI functionality into your text messages.

TextIt is one of the smartest and easiest tools to build your own SMS bots without any coding. A more powerful but less user-friendly option is Twilio Studio. (https://www.twilio.com.) TextIt is being used by developers around the world to create all sorts of solutions, and creative health care providers are using the patient informed consent loophole to bypass HIPAA restrictions to build patient engagement solutions on SMS.

I recently used TextIt to build an interactive multiplayer SMS version of hangman to test the ability to measure cognitive function in the elderly and perhaps also mitigate feelings of loneliness. With TextIt, you can drag and drop functional elements that instruct the app to send a message to a recipient, wait for a response, run a calculation, run an API call, or perform any number of other functions. The ability to call any public API (application programming interface) and receive and act on its response is what gives TextIt its true power to do almost anything you can imagine. My app, for example, can call a dictionary API to choose a random word and get its definition and frequency of usage in the English language every time it runs.

I'm excited to see what you build!

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Dr. Mohseniis an emergency physician, telemedicine provider with CirrusMD, and the editor of his own blog,http://CreativeHealthLabs.com. Follow him on Twitter @amohseni, and read his past EMN columns athttp://bit.ly/EMN-DocAPProvED.

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