Chatbots in healthcare – efficient, interactive, cost-efficient as well as customer-friendly

For many people, visiting the websites of health care providers or health insurance companies is a frustrating experience. While they can find a lot of information, it is often difficult to find the information they are looking for. That poses a problem because healthcare providers or insurance companies want to help their customers as quickly and efficiently as possible. Using a chatbot can be the ideal solution. But why? We want to explain that in more detail in this blog post.

An interactive and responsive communication

Nowadays, many healthcare websites are still entirely passive in their communication: the website offers a lot of information, but the customer searches and receives almost no help. Sometimes there are specific tools, like search engines, but the interaction comes almost exclusively from the customer. The significant advantage of a chatbot is that it is interactive and can have an honest conversation with users.

The interaction comes from both sides, and chatbots can guide customers to the information they need with great precision. It is an efficient, responsive, and comprehensive way of communication. And both users and providers take advantage of the bot: users find the information they need much faster, and businesses have accessible customer service available 24/7.

What do people think about communicating with chatbots?

When people have a choice between navigating a website with a mouse or having a (semi) conversation with a chatbot, many feel more comfortable interacting with the bot. Chatbots ensure that they engage customers in the conversation and, in turn, in their healthcare process. And that’s important to many people because it’s a significant and personal issue: a person’s health. Chatbots enable more human communication, so they use them well for “dialogic healthcare.”

It gives customers a personalized and proactive experience. And this is generally perceived as very pleasant by people. In addition, chatbots have advantages over accurate human contact with customer service because customers don’t need to constantly wait on the phone or be transferred from department to department. Is there anyone who doesn’t mind this? That’s right, no one. Everyone wants to get information as quickly as possible, and chatbots can significantly help.

Types of chatbots in healthcare

To develop a chatbot that engages users and provides them with solutions, developers should decide what type of chatbot would most efficiently achieve these goals. Therefore, they should consider the users’ purpose and the best help they need. Only then can developers build the right chatbot.

In healthcare, three basic chatbots are primarily developed – prescriptive, conversational, and informative. These three differ in the type of solutions they provide, the depth of communication, and their conversational style.

1. Prescriptive chatbots

Although prescriptive chatbots are conversational by design, they are developed to provide instructions or answers and offer therapeutic solutions.

2. Conversational chatbots

Conversational chatbots are developed as contextual tools that offer answers depending on the user’s purpose. Nevertheless, a conversational chatbot has different maturity levels – not all offer a similar intensity of the conversation.

Conversational chatbots with a higher level of intelligence can offer more than ready-made answers and understand the context better. These chatbots look at a conversation and don’t just process individual sentences. You can expect more personalized responses when a chatbot has a higher intelligence level.

That is when conversations start to mimic human interactions. Conversational chatbots use NLU (Natural Language Understanding), NLP (Natural Language Processing), and AI applications that run devices to understand human intent and speech.

3. Informative chatbots

Informative chatbots offer valuable data to users, sometimes in the form of breaking news, notifications, and pop-ups. Typically, these bots provide automated customer support and data. Mental health and health news websites also use chatbots to access more detailed data on a topic.

Any chatbot you create that will offer health recommendations needs to take a hard look at the rules that apply to it. Chatbot developers need to use different chatbots to engage and value their audience. You need to know your audience, what best suits them, and which chatbot is suitable.

There are things you are allowed to say and things you are not allowed to say, and there are guidelines for how you are allowed to say things. In this environment, you will need to seek legal advice when developing this part of your chatbot.

Use cases for chatbots in healthcare

Since artificial intelligence is still an innovation in healthcare, these tools cannot be fully responsible for patient engagement beyond customer service and other essential tasks. However, some great use cases where AI can help in healthcare.

Here are some usage cases of chatbots that describe the potential benefits they promise to patients, healthcare providers, and physicians:

1. Customer service or administration

Log into almost any website these days, and a chatbot is waiting to help you navigate the site or solve a small problem. As a result, chatbots will continue to help users navigate their healthcare services. In this regard, chatbots may issue reminders, schedule appointments, or help refill prescription medications in the future.

There will be some HIPAA and privacy difficulties before this technology becomes commonplace. Undoubtedly, these customer and administrative service functions are just on the horizon.

2. Health tracking

Patients who need regular healthcare support can also take advantage of chatbots. For example, medical providers can use bots to connect patients with doctors.

Such bots can provide detailed health records and help analyze the effects of prescribed medications.

3. Mental health

Various bots provide users with a human experience to make them feel like they are talking to a natural person. For many people, talking about their feelings and fears is very helpful in improving their mental health.

For such patients, a Conversational Health Bot can be an outlet to discuss their feelings. If their needs are beyond the bot’s capacity, a health professional can easily step in and reference the interactions between the chatbot and the patient.

4. Employment and training

Large healthcare agencies are constantly hiring and training new employees. Processing these applications usually involves a lot of paperwork that needs to be filled out and credentials that need to be double-checked. The task of HR departments will be simplified by connecting chatbots to these facilities.

For example, new employees could sign up with chatbots and be integrated into the onboarding process for new employees or receive data about the company.

A company can use chatbots to send files to new employees as needed, automatically remind new employees to fill out their forms, and automate various other tasks, such as requesting maternity leave, vacation time, and more.

5. Patient engagement

Chatbots should not only actively capture but also engage patients’ interest in their requests in case the technology can further engage patients to improve outcomes.

Despite the nutritional analysis surrounding the problem, the right technology will strengthen the bond between patient and provider, not break it.

Sometimes physicians refer their patients to journals and then return a week later. But tech-savvy people aren’t waiting for something to be discussed in a week.

Patients have many expectations of healthcare in this world where everything is on-demand. Therefore, healthcare providers should accept constant accessibility with the help of AI. However, they will do it if you can make it easier for them by offering something practical, relatable, and entertaining.

6. Research or treatment

Harnessing the power of data is another way – especially machine learning – to evaluate data and studies faster than ever before. With the constant influx of new cancer research, keeping records of experimental decisions is difficult.

A physician may be unable to read and stay ahead of every new research paper, but a device can. An AI-enabled device can sift through all the information and make solid suggestions to patients and physicians.

Perhaps this use case relates more to the advances that machine learning will bring, but the extraction of this data can and could very well be in automated forms of support and advice. Instead, one can surmise that there will be a link between the automated discovery of relevant data and its provision, all to offer more personalized treatment.

7. FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

The FAQ section is one of the most common elements on websites. Some providers convert this section into an interactive chatbot feature on their homepage to answer basic questions. Hospitals and clinics do this to make it easier for users to research data.

Chatbots can answer questions such as what the payment rates are, what documents are essential for treatment, what the hours of operation are, and how much insurance will cover.

This way, a chatbot functions like a one-stop store, answering all basic inquiries in seconds. Patients don’t need to call the clinic or spend time browsing the website to find the needed data.

8. Billing and claims

No one wants to deal with medical bills, insurance agencies, and claims. Fortunately, healthcare AI bots can help with these tasks. Healthcare bots can check current insurance coverage, help submit claims, and track the status of those claims. In addition, these bots can help doctors with billing inquiries and the pre-authorization process.

Are chatbots safe?

We’ve already indicated that healthcare is a personal and vital issue for everyone. Logically, this also applies to the information that healthcare providers and health insurers handle. Must handle personal data carefully and securely. Can chatbots provide this? It is entirely possible that can develop chatbots with the highest security standards. Can compare the security of chatbots to that of large corporations. Not only do they provide enhanced security, but they also allow managers to monitor chatbot distribution and usage exclusively. In addition, many chatbots also support all cryptographic security requirements to protect an institution’s data.

And that’s not all.

Chatbots can do more than deliver information. Bots have many functionalities: they can also help support the healthcare facility or insurance company’s team. For example, they can organize the information provided by customers and alert the staff when the patient needs help or when there are urgent changes in the customer’s status.

Chatbots are also ideal for the tedious routine tasks that the front office of your organization has to do. For example, they can streamline admission, discharge, and transfer requests, schedule appointments, and send and receive references. They can also update medical history systems and send prescription refill notifications. And when a patient attends an appointment, chatbots can automatically send all the necessary information to the parties involved (such as the doctor, receptionist, etc.).

That can ensure that the facility’s system runs even more smoothly. Market researchers predict that savings from using chatbots in healthcare will increase sharply in the coming years. That is not surprising, as bots will provide patients with faster and easier access to healthcare and reduce the burden on systems.

In short, chatbots are flexible, cost-effective, and interactive and can therefore provide a high-quality patient experience.

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