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Humanizing Patient Care with Smart Healthcare Virtual Assistant

Profile photo of Ranjit Padmanabhan

Ranjit Padmanabhan

Apr 20 2020

While other industries are adopting modern ways of doing things, healthcare still has a traditional, manual approach to dealing with patients. We can get an online order delivered in a day or a pizza delivered in 30 minutes but a patient still has to wait for weeks to get an appointment with a doctor.

What are healthcare chatbots?

Smart Virtual Assistants (aka chatbots) can revolutionize the way care providers engage with patients. These healthcare chatbots can provide current and accurate information. Hospitals can create a simpler, friendlier, and personalized ecosystem for their patients with AI-powered chatbots. They can supplement treatment with personalized interaction. While healthcare chatbots can never replace doctors, they can definitely make their work easier, faster, and more efficient. Microsoft research says AI can be at work for your patients.

healthcare chatbots
healthcare chatbots

How can healthcare chatbots ease the burden on healthcare providers and improve patient care?

Healthcare chatbots can add value in multiple areas:

  • Real-time healthcare assistance, pre & post care, surgical consent
  • Appointment scheduling and reminders
  • Patient onboarding & engagement
  • Medical equipment support
  • Information on prescription drugs, medication reminders
  • Billing and administration
  • Claims & benefits management, pre-authorization

According to Juniper Research, annual cost savings derived from the adoption of chatbots in healthcare will reach $3.6B globally by 2022, up from an estimated $2.8 million in 2017. That’s about $1B growth globally.

Healthcare virtual assistants bring efficiency and empathy to patient care   healthcare chatbot    smart virtual assistant

Healthcare virtual assistants can be deployed on multiple platforms (web, iOS, Android) and integrated into various channels like SMS, email, WhatsApp, and Facebook. Chatbots can adapt the user experience to the capabilities of the channel.

Take WhatsApp, for instance. It is popular across the globe and among various age groups, including the elderly. This would make a WhatsApp chatbot ideal for providing personalized interactions to ensure that elderly patients receive the care they require served through a familiar interface.

One of the first things most patients do when they experience certain symptoms is to turn to Google, which returns a motley and inconsistent set of results and diagnoses.

Healthcare chatbots can provide you with authoritative information from websites that are curated by your healthcare provider. Once a patient is properly authenticated, they can consider health history, route patients to the appropriate advisors & resources, send appointment reminders, and manage patient records. Healthcare chatbots can deliver lab test results, describe risks, and recommend the next steps. And they can do this with the appropriate privacy controls.

Healthcare chatbot

Challenges faced by the healthcare industry while implementing a healthcare virtual assistant

Despite all the benefits described, the healthcare industry faces a few challenges to the widespread adoption of healthcare chatbots.

  1. User Privacy: Ensure that user (patient) data is protected from unauthorized access both when data is transmitted and when it is stored. Stringent verification measures such as secure login, one-time passwords, and multi-factor authentication must also be put in place. The measures taken to protect user information and privacy should be transparently communicated to patients.
  2. Online Trust: Let’s be honest, most people find it difficult to trust the Internet with their health information. With sites of dubious authority providing unverified & conflicting diagnoses and treatments, patients are bound to be confused and skeptical. Hospitals need to add a personal touch to the bots and customize the interactions to the specific needs of patients.
  3. Workflow Integration: Chatbots are often deployed as point solutions which can respond to user inquiries but do not have the capacity to invoke follow up. For example, a patient can book an appointment but arrive early to fill the paperwork. To maximize the utility of chatbots, they should be integrated with business workflows that can fulfill patients’ objectives.

In conclusion, a healthcare chatbot can assist doctors, provide health coaching, or guide elderly patients; The opportunities & benefits are endless. Many of the challenges are surmountable with the right technology platform, leading to a personalized, patient-centric experience. In a fast-paced world where everyone is always short on time, AI-powered chatbots like A8 Chat are a promising solution to connect hospitals with their patients and offer humanized care. Contact Autonom8 to schedule a demo.