Is the Healthcare industry still shackled by the rigmarole of traditional, archaic processes?

Can technology replace human intervention in healthcare?

How can chatbots transform the current healthcare processes while maintaining safety, efficiency, and reliability?

These are some of the questions we will address in this blog. Additionally, we will look at the role chatbots play in augmenting the time-intensive healthcare industry while throwing light on its limitations as well. Let’s jump right in.

Healthcare Chatbots: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Taking Care of Routine Work & Automating Administrative Processes

“We knew a technology that facilitated conversations between care teams and patients would have to be automated to some extent. We also knew, given the population of newly-insured individuals under the Affordable Care Act, that the technology would need to be scalable.

That’s how Conversa was born. It was the intersection of the anticipated future of patient engagement and the need for a conversational, automated, and personalized solution to facilitate the engagement.” –  Dr. Phillip Marshall, CPO, Conversa

Much like we have bots that help you place pizza orders online, healthcare chatbots can help schedule appointments and answer general queries. Plus, chatbots offer instant and round-the-clock support making it a preferred choice for users. That’s not all. Chatbots are fast-evolving into conversational AI agents that can assist users in reminding them about upcoming appointments and check-ups, help with refilling prescription medications, help collect review and user feedback, and even allow companies to advertise their healthcare business in order to boost revenues and sales. Take, for instance, the Florence chatbots, which offers medication reminders, acts as a health-tracker, and offers information on nearby doctors, clinics, and diseases:

In addition to this, there are several organizations such as, ManipalCigna, etc. who are offering great services to the patient with the help of Acquire’s customer support tools. In short, the application of chatbots in the healthcare industry is gaining traction and becoming more commonplace than you think.

Key takeaway: When it comes to implementing routine and repetitive work, using a chatbot software to automate and streamline processes becomes a smart move. Plus, chatbots can deliver clinically-vetted information to users so that the human personnel can spend their valuable time taking care of patients and solving problems that software cannot resolve.

Addressing Health Queries & Offering Seamless Support 

“We live in an ‘on-demand’ world and recognize that to meet consumers’ healthcare expectations; it’s imperative that providers embrace ‘always-on’ accessibility. Conversa enables that.” – Dr. Phillip Marshall

When it comes to health and illness, it may not always be possible to contact your doctor or personal physician – especially at odd hours. This is where a chatbot can double up as a trusted healthcare consultant. It can get to the root of the patient’s problem instantly and offer real-time, personalized solutions. In addition to this, some chatbots like OneRemission can help manage chronic conditions such as cancer, offer text and video-based assistance, and even offer lifestyle health coaching for a 360-degree health experience from the user’s point of view. For example, Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot integrates medical content from trusted sources and offers credible triage and symptom-checking, at the click of a button:

Another interesting chatbot that allows users to work on their emotional and mental fitness with therapist-curated activities is Therachat:

Yet another interesting chatbot that connects people with clinical advice and services, enhancing access without compromising empathy is Sensely’s bot Molly:

Key takeaway: Whether it’s addressing user queries via means of text, audio, or video, or assisting users in navigating healthcare services, or keeping customers active as well as responsible for their own care healthcare, chatbots can forge the way to a speedy, precise, and consistent recovery.

Extracting Medical & Patient-Related Information, Quickly and Accurately

“While a doctor who is treating cancer patients does not have the bandwidth to read and stay ahead of every new piece of research, a machine can. A machine with AI capabilities can comb through all the data and provide concrete recommendations for doctors and their patients.”- Kouris Kalligas, founder and CEO of Therachat

Ever heard of a chatbot that can extract valuable information such as medical condition, medication, dosage, strength, and frequency from important data sources such as doctors’ notes, clinical trial reports, and patient health records? That’s Amazon’s Comprehend Medical for you. Using such software, you can enhance patient care, protect patient information, and reduce medical document processing costs. Let’s take a look at how this works:

Another great example is Safedrugbot, whose aim is to assist doctors in their daily work:

Key takeaway: In order to deliver value-based care, healthcare professionals need data that’s accessible, holistic, and above all, accurate. This is where chatbots can become their trusted guide. By extracting large chunks of data, chatbots offer actionable information that can then be used to deliver customized treatment. 

Those were some of the biggest advantages of using chatbots, but what about its limitations? Moving on, let’s look at the top disadvantages of using a chatbot:

  1. Flouting User Privacy: Like any other tech tool, existing as well as first-time users may find it daunting and difficult to share personal information for fear of it being exposed. This is why healthcare companies need to focus on data safety so that cyber-attacks and errors can be kept at bay. Better still, it helps to create a dedicated page on “Data & User Safety” so that your users know they’re in safe hands. You could address key concerns such as how the data is being protected, what are the potential risks users may face, what are the rules and regulations being followed in order to protect user data, among other things. This is what Babylon Health’s privacy page looks like. Note how detailed the page is and how they have a section on “Compliance certifications and regulations”:
  1. Fostering Trust: It’s no surprise that when it comes to healthcare advice, apps, and the Internet are not considered to be ‘trustworthy’ sources by the masses. So the challenge lies in proving your medical prowess so that users can use the app/chatbot without concerns of authenticity. You can establish a sense of authority by getting a team of experts on board and showcasing their credibility via qualifications. Plus, you could highlight awards and testimonials to instill user trust and loyalty, such as emotional health assistant, Youper does effectively:

That’s not all. Special care must be taken to address any information gap and misunderstandings that may arise due to contextual data that a bot may not be able to comprehend.

  1. Providing Effective Solutions: All said and done, if the user does not find true meaningful value with your chatbot service, you can bid them goodbye. In order to stay true to your offerings, do not make tall promises that are difficult to keep up. By contrast, look at how your bot can offer convenience and provide diligent solutions that are accessible and results-oriented. That said, it also helps to stay up-to-date and offer real-time information on the ongoing health crisis. Confused Take a look at Gyant’s chatbot that offers essential information on the global pandemic, Covid-19, the moment a user lands on the page:

The Verdict

Patient care and follow-up. Triage and treatment. Personalized healthcare solutions.

Undoubtedly, chatbots cover all these aspects and more in the continuum of care. It can be safely assumed that while chatbots cannot replace humans altogether in the medical profession, they certainly help augment integral processes and offer a systematic as well as insightful way of delivering world-class healthcare services.

The final verdict: Chatbots, in combination with human services, can tip the scales of smart and value-based care and emerge as a winning combination – if used correctly, innovatively, intuitively, and of course, safely. What do you think?

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