The Role of AI-Powered Chat For Improving Patient Experiences

“For AI to add the most value and for patients and physicians to embrace it, it needs to support, not supplant, the patient-physician relationship … AI will be most effective when it enhances physicians’ ability to focus their full attention on the patient by shifting the physicians’ responsibilities away from transactional tasks toward personalized care that lies at the heart of human healing.” — Steven Lin

With the full-blown global pandemic, Covid-19, transforming the way we live and thrive, more and more healthcare providers are looking at combining artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics to provide speedy and efficient care.

In fact, Israel is already using AI to flag high-risk covid-19 patients according to the MIT Tech Review. So, if you think that using AI in healthcare is in its nascent stages, think again.

In the same vein, one area that demands an honorable mention is the use of AI-powered chatbots in enhancing patient experiences and speeding things up, quite literally.

Today, we’ll look at the top uses of an AI-powered chatbot for healthcare providers (with real-life examples):

5 Ways in which Chatbots are Transforming Healthcare

1. Providing Seamless Experience

Drawing parallels in the healthcare domain, an AI-powered chatbot can be thought of as the customer’s online Personal Assistant or first point of contact in primary care. These virtual health agents allow patients to air their concerns 24/7 and at affordable costs. In addition, they can help schedule appointments and provide generic answers to health plan queries.

Take the case of health insurance providers such as ManipalCigna and HDFC Health, which are offering great service to patients with the help of Acquire’s customer support tools. Let’s take a look at HDFC Health’s chatbot services:

AI Powered Chatbot

Image Source: HDFC health

In addition to the services mentioned above, chatbots can help remind patients about upcoming appointments, keep track of health check-ups, collect insightful feedback, among other things.

Key takeaway: Chatbots allow for higher patient engagement as they’re available round-the-clock and double up as a convenient channel for anxious patients. This friction-less experience ultimately leads to a happy patient.

Also, Read: 5 Healthcare Apps You Need Now

Stimulating Personalized & Meaningful Conversations

Convenient. Customized. Accessible.

These three key advantages can offer healthcare brands the competitive advantage they’re looking for by way of using chatbots.

UNC Health is a fantastic case in point. Its chatbot technology allows the hospital to check-in on patients daily and foster deeper connections while maintaining physical isolation. This is what Stephanie Turner, interim vice president of population health services has to say about using the “empathetic” chatbot technology:

AI Powered Chatbot

Image Source: UNCHealth Chat

“We need to provide resources to patients if their condition worsens and effectively monitor them. The patient engagement chatbot technology expands UNC’s virtual care and communication to help the provider meet the needs of its isolated and quarantined patients in an empathetic and efficient way.”

Another example worth considering is Youper, an emotional health assistant which offers personalized solutions on how to track your mental health and navigate your emotional feelings:

AI Powered Chatbot

Image Source: Youper Chat

Key takeaway: Clearly, AI-enabled chatbots are constantly undergoing dynamic changes and becoming patient-centric so that they can handle more complex tasks like monitoring a person’s emotional health. Gone are the days when bots were used only for conducting routine and repetitive tasks. They’re being used to offer predictive and proactive care.

Providing access to Real-Time Information

“Through the use of AI and technology, queuing theories and smart analytics, HDFC Ergo General Insurance Co Ltd claims to have reduced the average time to 14 minutes from 3.8 hours.” – Live Mint

It’s no surprise that offering real-time information is key to establishing a sound medical practice. A chatbot works as a digital and interactive portal engaging and informing readers across the globe. In fact, the World Health Organization aims to fight ‘false information’ in the times of Corona with an interactive and intelligent multilingual chatbot and offer a seamless user experience to the visitors:

AI Powered Chatbot

Image Source: WHO and Rakuten

“WHO’s aim is to reach as many people as possible with reliable health information through innovative digital technology. Information is powerful and can help save lives during this pandemic.” – Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Plenty of healthcare insurance providers are integrating the use of AI on Whatsapp to fast-track routine tasks such as offering policy quotations, accepting claim intimation, and providing policy copy to customers.

In addition to this, chatbots like OneRemissions are being used to offer cancer patients critical information they need, such as effective diets, exercises, and post-cancer practices as curated by Integrative Medicine experts. They’re rightly being considered as AI-enabled physical, social, and mental online health consultants:

AI Powered Chatbot

Image Source: OneRemission

Nils Hammerla, a Machine Learning Specialist, explains the role of a chatbot in healthcare beautifully. He says:

“Nobody expects AI-based services to substitute for a ‘real’ doctor, but there are many other tasks that they could very well help with. They could take your history before you actually see the GP, keep track of how you are doing to spot if things go wrong that you haven’t even noticed, give you medical advice, or even lifestyle advice in order to improve your long term health. We see AI as a chance to improve the efficiency of the healthcare system, to support our doctors and other medical staff, and to improve accessibility all around the world to healthcare services.”

Key takeaway: A chatbot acts as a storehouse of information which can be used by doctors, patients, medical team, and so at different times and at varying stages of treatment.

Also, Read: 5 Reasons Why Physicians Should Integrate a Healthcare App Into Their Practice

Guiding and Empowering Patients towards Better Self-Care

Whether it’s about better understanding your symptoms or receiving better medical support, chatbots offer a host of benefits by empowering remote patients to lead a healthier life. These bots collect data and relay information based on the inputs provided. Plus, brands can integrate helpful features such as video, call, text, and chat to get a holistic view of the patient’s progress.

Let’s take a look at some real-life chatbots that are changing the face of personalized healthcare and offering better solutions than simply Googling stuff on the internet:

  • A symptom-triage chatbot such as Your.MD offers actionable information from trustworthy sources and established protocols so that the user/patient can make an informed decision:

AI Powered Chatbot

Dr. Andrew Le, CEO, and co-founder of Buoy Health, explains why users need help when it comes to understanding the right course of medical action:

“It is really difficult for people to understand whether to go to the ER, the urgent care center, the retail clinic, telemedicine, the nurse call line — any of those. It’s hard for people to know which of those options are appropriate because, at the end of the day, people didn’t get trained medically to triage their cough.” –

  • Another great example of how a chatbot can be used to promote better health is Northwell’s chatbot, Conversa, which aims at reducing no-shows for colonoscopies. Essentially, the bot texts or emails patients before the procedure to offer relevant information and answer any questions they may have (which are plenty thanks to the nature of the procedure). That’s not all. The bot can also be used to monitor patient satisfaction, lookup cancellations, track no-shows, and monitor exams:
  • More recently, Conversa Health built a bot for UCSF to cater to coronavirus-specific issues such as delivering test results quicker, screening staff before they come to work, assessing risk, ensuring people stay safe, checking symptoms, triaging to local testing and care resources, and checking in on quarantined patients.

“The personalized chatbot will encourage patients by addressing misunderstandings and concerns about the exam, delivering information in a responsive, conversational way over email or text.” Northwell

Key takeaway: A chatbots can be thought of as a self-care coach that offers effective, trustworthy, and safe medical solutions. And in instances where it cannot, these smart tools can redirect the patient to a nurse/doctor/medical staff.

Automating Routine Tasks

“Northwell is being able to test around 1,600 coronavirus patients per day and delivering results using Conversa’s Lab Results tool. This is helping save precious nurses’ time, which they can spend on taking care of critical patients instead of running routine tasks. All in all, automating an administrative-type process has improved patient outcomes as they’re able to get their results quicker and access information on the next steps.”

According to research, “Many physicians believed that chatbots would be most beneficial for scheduling doctor appointments (78%), locating health clinics (76%), or providing medication information (71%).” Chatbots can answer specific, FAQ-type questions in an interactive manner before, during, and post-treatment. Plus, they can help take care of daily tasks, which can eat away the medical staff’s valuable time and reduce the latter’s workload. This kind of automated assistance allows the team to better prioritize tasks at hand. Additionally, it reduces the scope for human error and reduces operational costs as well. In rare instances where the bot is unable to help the customer, it can route queries to a live agent for speedy resolution:

AI Powered Chatbot

Image Source: Acquire Chatbot

Closing Thoughts

“Global AI spending in healthcare is projected to surpass $22 billion by 2023.” – Research and Markets

A chatbot cannot and should not be considered as a substitute for doctors. On the contrary, the idea is to marry this futuristic technology and the coveted human skills together to provide healthcare that’s safe, swift, and smart – by all means and at all costs.

Disclaimer: The statements, opinions, and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of Credihealth and the editor(s).

About the Author

Sam Makad, AI Powered ChatbotThis article is contributed by Sam Makad to Credihealth.

Sam Makad is an experienced writer and marketing consultant. His expertise lies on marketing and advertising. He helps small & medium enterprises to grow their business and overall ROI. Reach out to Sam Makad on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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