by Anthony Y. 10/30/2020
With all the advancements in the field of healthcare that the technological revolution of the past two decades has brought, one of the more subtle yet potentially game changing developments is the introduction of chatbots. A chatbot is nothing but a simple program designed to engage audiences in a textual conversation not unlike a human would. Chances are you’ve already come across one without realizing it, for more and more healthcare providers are calling upon the services of patient engagement chatbots to streamline their value delivery funnel!
The typical scenario often looks like this – upon experiencing recurring symptoms, a potential patient logs on to the website of their preferred healthcare provider. There they’re met with a chat window asking for their symptoms and (in some cases where the patient engagement chatbot is HIPAA compliant) their medical history. Once those details are entered, the chatbot indexes the information against its data repository to match it with reasonable conclusions and presents the patient with its analysis. Following the analysis, the user is typically given the option to schedule an appointment with their practitioner along with whatever other necessary steps might be needed. Now, none of these activities are different to what an actual human healthcare provided would have engaged in, but what’s astounding is that they are performed by a few lines of code with the same degree of efficiency and accuracy! The most important quality of a chatbot in the healthcare space is its ability to engage the patient, and as witnessed by this use case example of a HIPAA compliant chatbot such as SmartBot360, you can see exactly how this patient engagement is achieved.
As our little “case study” must have illustrated, there is a world of benefits associated with patient engagement chatbots, but the most important one is how it simplifies the entire process for both healthcare providers as well as patients. There are four primary dimensions to this process of simplification, and the first and most obvious one is how for the patients there is instant engagement. In cases where the symptoms are often very mild, a patient engagement chatbot cuts through the hassle of having to schedule an in-person appointment with the practitioner for what may very well be a non-issue, as well as having to deal with the delays of trying to block time for a phone call at the least. A patient simply needs to fill in the required details with the chatbot and they can get their answers immediately. The efficiency increase that this brings about on the part of the healthcare provider leads us to our second dimension, which is that patient engagement chatbots enable healthcare providers to create more value for their customers. Since the chatbot takes up tasks that are fundamentally repetitive and mechanical in nature, it frees up the human resource in the value creation process to allocate its finite energy towards other parts of the process which not only allows the healthcare providers to serve their patients better, but also improve their bottom line in the long run. The bottom line improvement is indeed the third dimension of how patient engagement chatbots simplify the healthcare provision process since due to their easy to set up and use nature, they can often be used in a plug and play manner thanks to the high degree of specialization and within minutes of being set up these chatbots can start bringing in sales and maximizing patient conversions.
That last part is particularly important since the fourth dimension is how one of the major ways patient engagement chatbots simplify the process of healthcare provision is by providing a platform for setting up appointments with healthcare professionals in a jiffy in a contactless manner. In today’s COVID-19 ridden world where minimizing contact is being advised, having a useful tool that screens for the disease and suggests appropriate action without involving human contact in any form is of paramount importance.
As big a part of the healthcare industry as patient engagement chatbots might be today, they are only going to get bigger and better from here. With advancements in the fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning and linguistic programming, we are getting closer and closer to chatbots that are successful at replicating the human interaction a patient might have with a high degree of accuracy. Given how our world is only going to get more and more digital from here, having our preferred practitioner’s chatbot show us a more human touch doesn’t sound too bad.