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4 Uses for Conversational AI in Healthcare (That Won’t Scare Patients)

AI is changing the way healthcare professionals serve their patients and increase office efficiency. These tips will help you put conversational AI to work in your healthcare practice.

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If you’re running a busy medical office, you could probably use a few extra hands. 

You’re not alone. More and more medical providers are turning to conversational AI to help smooth out tasks like patient scheduling and follow-up, and routine administrative work.

Conversational AI is, at its most basic, artificial intelligence that lets your customers interact, talk, and work with your computer systems the same way they would with humans.

A recent study by BlueWeave Consulting revealed that, as of 2021, the conversational AI market was worth $6.9 billion, and expected to grow to $29.9 billion by 2028.

Potential Drawbacks of Using AI for Healthcare 

For all its benefits, like automating administrative tasks and making healthcare information more accessible, conversational AI isn’t always safe or readily embraced. 

A recent study from the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that physicians reported positive attitudes about the “administrative benefits associated with chatbots,” but they also expressed doubts about AI’s ability to display human emotion and provide diagnoses, among other things. 

A different study in Digital Health reports that, on the user side, most Internet users would be open to using health chatbots, but cautioned that “Patients’ perspectives, motivation and capabilities need to be taken into account when developing and assessing the effectiveness of health chatbots.”

That’s a lot of big words. What it all adds up to is that providers and patients require a slow, low-risk approach to AI in healthcare.

We’ll lay out some of the best ways to safely put conversational AI to work in your facility.

Low-risk Ways to Introduce AI Into Your Healthcare Practice

We’ll talk about some low-risk ways you can start out slowly incorporating conversational AI into your healthcare practice without relying on it to handle patient care.

1. Use a Chatbot to Answer FAQs

For every rare medical case your office gets, there are five more patients with common concerns that you can take care of with AI.

This usually looks like a bot on your site that can answer frequently asked questions like:

  • What are your office hours?
  • Are you taking new patients right now? 
  • Can I reschedule my appointment?
  • Do you take my insurance?

Answering every individual question can take up a lot of your staff’s time and attention. Program a bot to make sure your patients still get the answers and individual interaction they need, without using your staff’s resources.

2. Schedule and follow up with appointments

The back and forth nature of appointment scheduling takes time that your staff could be spending on more critical tasks. Set up an AI bot that helps patients schedule appointments and follows up with them afterward.

You can even integrate the program with an SMS platform to trigger appointment reminder texts, which help reduce the number of no-shows. Just ask Lighthouse Dental, a practice that saw a major reduction in missed appointments after they began texting reminders to patients.

We recommend sending each patient that signs up for an appointment a confirmation text right after they schedule, and setting up an automatic reminder message for the day or week before they’re supposed to come in. 

This might look like:

Hi Angela! Your visit with Dr. Wan is coming up on Tuesday, October 8th. Reply with C to confirm or N to reschedule.

After the appointment, your chatbot program can trigger a patient survey request to capture feedback while the experience is still on the patient’s mind.

3. Let Visitors Know What Type of Appointment They Need

Then again, not every patient who finds your practice will know what kind of care they need. Luckily, you’re the expert, and with a little automated help, you can point them in the right direction.

Create a quiz that outlines how your patients are feeling, an estimate of how long it’s been since their last routine checkup, and other details that will help you sort them into categories and make targeted recommendations for their care. 

For example, a new patient who’s coming for a prenatal visit won’t need the same type of appointment as someone with a chest cold. 

A good AI flow on your site can help everyone get the attention they need.

4. Tracking Health Goals

A big part of keeping up with patient care is helping each one stay on track toward their individual goals. 

If you have a patient portal, encourage your patients to input information about their health and/or fitness goals (a quiz would be helpful here).

From there, you can send out recommendations and encouragement over email or text to help keep them on track and motivated. You can even ask each patient to add or update their information, whether it’s progress or just a new goal, over time. 

This will help your patients feel seen and supported. 

The Final Word on Conversational AI in Healthcare

AI is evolving fast, and doctors are using it to take some of the workload off of their staff and administrators. 

The last point we’ll make is that, as useful as conversational AI is, it can’t completely replace the human element in your healthcare practice. Always give your patients the option to get in touch with someone on your staff if they’re struggling to work with your AI.

Lily Norton
Lily Norton

Lily is a content marketing specialist at SimpleTexting. She specializes in making helpful, entertaining video content and writing blogs that help businesses take advantage of all that texting has to offer. When she’s not writing or making TikToks, you can find Lily at roller derby practice or in a yoga studio in the Seattle area.

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