In the US, doctors spend 16% of their time on administration. This is time that could be spent on patient care, personal development, or life outside of work. And it has brought with it a host of negative consequences, including stress, burnout, and doctors contemplating leaving the profession for their own personal wellbeing.
Administration is also proving to be a financial burden on the healthcare system, making up 34% of total healthcare expenditures. If US healthcare were to reduce its administrative spending to match Canadian levels, the country could save more than $600 billion in one year.
It’s clear the healthcare industry needs to address this issue, especially in light of recent research which indicates administration plays an important part in shaping patient experience.
An emerging solution has come in the form of healthcare chatbots. Analysis firm Juniper Research published a study which found that chatbots will be responsible for cost savings of over $8 billion per year by 2022, with the healthcare sector set to benefit the most. They stated: ‘healthcare and banking providers using bots can expect average time savings of just over 4 minutes per inquiry, equating to average cost savings in the range of $0.50 to $0.70 per interaction.’
But it’s not just financial savings. The pandemic has proven how effective chatbots can be, with the World Health Organization (WHO) launching a Facebook Messenger chatbot to share instant and accurate information about coronavirus with users across the globe. Listed below are some other key benefits that healthcare chatbots offer.
24/7 Real-Time Response
Healthcare chatbots are available to provide medical information or answer FAQs and patient questions—no matter the time. And through machine learning algorithms, they can draw conclusions and resolve issues without human intervention. Patients therefore find what they need without having to call or visit the clinic, thereby reducing administrative stress on doctors and nurses. Furthermore, chatbots serve as a great contact-free communication solution during the coronavirus pandemic.
Unlike a telephone, which acts as a single point of contact, a healthcare chatbot deployed on a healthcare organization’s website interacts with multiple patients simultaneously and answers their questions instantly. The chatbot can be programmed to be bilingual to help patients from all backgrounds. This helps reduce training costs and prevents staff from getting overwhelmed.
An important way in which chatbots streamline a healthcare organization’s workflow and cut down on administrative time is through seamless bookings. Through the chatbot, patients select from available date and time slots with healthcare professionals to make the entire experience stress-free.
A survey found that 78% of healthcare providers believe chatbots would be most beneficial for scheduling doctor appointments and follow-ups.
Chatbots may also be deployed to automate the prescription-refill process by collecting patient data and sharing it with the relevant doctor for approval. After approval is granted and the prescription is ready for collection, the chatbot sends the relevant messaging to the patient.
Maintain Patient Data
Leading conversational AI (Artificial Intelligence) chatbots come with NLP (Natural Language Processing), which allows them to naturally converse with patients in order to collect information. This information is then stored as patient records in the medical institution’s database, and can simplify a number of administrative tasks including admission, doctor-patient communication, and medical record-keeping.
Chatbots can collect patient feedback as well—an important resource for institutions seeking to improve upon the quality of patient care they deliver.
In addition to chatbots which ease the administrative burden for medical professionals, there are also medical chatbots with specific use cases. For example, there’s a chatbot designed to help people improve their mental health through CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and mindfulness; a health chatbot which tracks periods and user’s health information; a symptom checker; and one which provides up-to-date information to health professionals on the use of drugs during breastfeeding.
Chatbots are by no means a replacement for medical professionals. But they can definitely help a burdened system by alleviating costs and effort, and they can make a trip to the doctor’s office stress-free. Ultimately, the people who benefit most from chatbots in the healthcare industry are the professionals involved and their patients.
Does your healthcare organization need a chatbot?
Instabot has been used in the healthcare industry by both Pharma and Medical clients for customer support and lead generation. Common use cases include providing patients with information and answers to insurance FAQs, diagnosing illnesses and injuries, and booking patient appointments. If you’re looking for a chatbot for your healthcare organization, start a free trial of Instabot today.