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May 11, 2021

Sometimes there are just not enough hours in a day. It is an inevitable aspect of running a practice or center that current and potential clients call to ask questions. It can clog up the phone line and slow down internal operations. For this reason, among others, a website chat bot can be a useful tool to engage with patients and answer their questions. In fact, IBM estimates approximately 80% of standard questions can be answered by a chat bot. The market for healthcare chat bots is expected to multiply three times by 2025. It is a growing service that ensures higher patient satisfaction and positive financial impacts.

Healthcare facilities using chatbot features on their website not only improve their own operations but the patients’ experience as well. Chat bots have the potential to answer questions, find information, and book appointments for new or returning clients. They are quick, convenient, and provide round-the-clock service. With chat bots, patients can book an appointment as fast as their symptoms set in. Fundamentally, chat bots are created to mimic conversational language, making them user-friendly for all ages and easy to understand. It is a lifeline that offers the comfort and satisfaction of immediacy that so many people crave in today’s day and age.

When it comes to inefficiencies in healthcare operations, there are always improvements to be made. Chat bots are one such improvement that can alleviate the loss of time and money. According to studies, roughly 23-34% of patients do not show up for their scheduled appointments. When these no-show appointments are routine, life-saving screenings, such as colonoscopies or mammograms, this can have negative consequences on a patient’s health. When colorectal cancer alone is found early, there is a 90% survival rate. Reminding patients to come in for their preventative procedures can have a direct impact on patient outcomes. Chat bots can bear the weight of reminding all patients with referral management, automatically reminding patients of their appointments and better ensuring they come in for their follow-ups.

The Finances of Chat Bots

In terms of financial impact, chat bots can be a lifeline for practices and centers. Price of a chatbot can vary greatly, depending on the type that best suits your practice or center. Monthly subscriptions to chat bot services can run as low as $100 per month and building a custom chat bot can run as high as $30,000. While this seems like a steep fee, the financial benefits greatly outweigh the cost. Improving the number of no-show appointments alone can save a facility between 2-5 million dollars a year.

While the chatbots’ positive financial impact makes it appealing, its greatest advantage is ultimately the improvement to the patient experience. Healthcare providers should keep their potential and current clients at the forefront of their operational focus, and chat bots do just that. They enhance the patient satisfaction tenfold. Chat bots provide patients with a discreet and convenient environment to ask questions they might otherwise feel nervous asking. Chat bots facilitate surveys and other patient feedback mechanisms to improve a practice’s functionality. They can assess symptoms and recommend next steps. They can schedule appointments and send reminders. Above all else, chat bots make the patient feel valued and in control of their own health.

Implementing a healthcare chat bot is different for each practice or center, depending on an organization’s size, existing IT infrastructure, budget, and needs. It is a system that requires due diligence and preparation. Interested practices and centers  should reach out to their corporate partner to see what support they can provide in implementing a chat bot.

Brighid Flynn is an experienced healthcare and wellness writer at PE GI Solutions. She can be reached at bflynn@pegisolutions.com

Sources:

https://www.cardinaldigitalmarketing.com/blog/how-chatbots-can-improve-the-patient-experience/

https://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20181208/TRANSFORMATION01/181209977/healthcare-providers-are-teaming-with-chatbots-to-assist-patients

https://www.patientgain.com/medical-chatbots/#:~:text=How%20Much%20Does%20it%20Cost,automatic%20tasks%20within%20given%20parameters.

https://patientengagementhit.com/news/patient-education-scheduling-fixes-shrink-patient-no-show-rates