Why are chatbots becoming more and more popular and adopted by the healthcare industry representatives? This article is an overview of the advantages of medical chatbots and existing obstacles to them being widespread.
Artificial intelligence is now at the peak and chatbots are only one example of its use contributing to progress. Nowadays the number of messaging apps like Telegram, Facebook Messenger, Slack and others are skyrocketing. WhatsApp alone had 1.5 billion monthly active users way back in 2017, and the number keeps growing.
Through the widespread messengers, chatbots are being increasingly in demand as they can maintain a conversation when solving problems. For instance, WeChat bots can already book an appointment to a doctor, transfer money, buy tickets and goods as well as offer many other services.
Virtual assistants save time and make life easier via automated customer support. Grand View Research predicts that the global chatbot market will reach 1.25 billion dollars by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 24.3 percent.
What is a Chatbot and What Does it do?
Chatbot is a computer program designed to carry on a dialogue with people, particularly on the Internet. It assists individuals via text messages within websites, applications or instant messaging and enables businesses to attract, keep and satisfy clients. This kind of bots is an automated system of communicating with users.
Hospitals are increasingly adopting chatbots. They help to identify symptoms, manage medications and monitor chronic health problems. Smartphone utilization along with rising adoption of health applications, IoT, telehealth and other similar technologies are contributing to the market growth.
It is worthwhile to emphasize that the chatbot is not designed to diagnose a person. The mission of the chatbot is actually guiding people and assisting to reveal if they are seriously ill. After that, an individual could be transferred to a healthcare professional. This order of things essentially saves the doctor’s time.
The global chatbot market will reach 1.25 billion dollars by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 24.3 percent.Grand View Research
Unique advantages that chatbots give to healthcare
1.Availability and ongoing health monitoring
All healthcare providers are always willing to help their patients and they understand how it is vital to be available if there is an urgent need for medical attention. Unfortunately, doctors have limited time and a lot of patients that doesn’t allow them to be available anytime.
In their turn, chatbots are there for those who need medical assistance at all times. Furthermore, virtual assistants may be responsible for reminding users to take their medicine and monitoring a patient’s health status, motivate them to stick to the routine as well as provide information on medications. Moreover, it monitors your health and helps you to achieve the goals you have set for yourself.
2. Providing information fast when there is not a moment to lose
Emergencies are common in healthcare which means prompt and correct diagnosis is vitally important. Various healthcare specialists can make the right decision in time in case they are able to obtain the needed patient information easily. That’s why a number of modern medical institutions are creating a chatbot that is responsible for internal record-keeping. This kind of bots is able to immediately receive important patient information such as prescribed and administered medication, allergies, check-up reports, etc.
Through creating chatbots to find this information, medical institutions significantly reduce the time healthcare professionals would spend searching in a patient record system. Obviously, virtual assistants can accomplish these tasks much more quickly than human employees with no risks of human error.
The Baidu Doctor app can be an example of this kind of bots. It is designed to communicate with patients directly and collect information about the state of their health. Additionally, this chatbot can question patients about things like the lasting, severity, and frequency of their symptoms so that to convey this information to specialists for them to be able to make an informed decision on therapy.
All medical institutions keeping up with advancing technology should be effectively presented online to attract potential patients and maintain their appointments booked. However, the thing is that it might not be easy for patients to look through lots of webpages on health problems and book appointments with no help. So, what happens if a website has a virtual assistant conversing with its visitors?
For instance, an individual wants to meet a doctor but firstly he/she would like to sort their symptoms out for better understanding. While seeking information on their symptoms, they run into the website of a conveniently located healthcare provider. They think they will explore information to figure out their symptoms, and then find an appointment booking service. All of a sudden a chat window appears. After a warm greeting, the site visitor chooses between a few options deciding on checking their symptoms. In reply, the virtual assistant suggests using a free symptom checker that can acquaint the website visitor with the most likely causes of their problem. Subsequently, the bot matches somebody it is speaking to with the relevant doctor of the hospital and offers an appointment with this specialist.
As a result, the person communicating with the bot is informed about their possible condition and is offered to visit a medical professional at the hospital shortly. This kind of communication with the chatbot makes individuals trust the hospital without even having visited it yet.
3. Scheduling appointments
Beside being a great tool for communication with possible patients, these bots are effective in particular if it comes to booking visits. People are able to schedule an appointment with a medical specialist online almost instantly.
Some chatbots are even designed to match patients with the relevant doctors and keep track of all their visits and follow-ups in case this information is needed in the future. A person just needs to make a simple request in a chat window as “I want to visit Dr. Johnson on Friday.” After that chatbot suggests the available options for the person to choose the most appropriate one. Finally, the bot asks to decide on the payment method and books the visit. It’s in the bag!
4. Providing support and additional information
As chatbots in healthcare are highly in demand, medical institutions can offer various services from symptom checking and appointment scheduling to dealing with additional questions. There is no need for them to call the clinic to clarify information. There are chatbots which can provide information to the following or similar requests:
- How long is someone infectious after a viral infection?
- How can I get a prescription?
- How can I find out my blood type?
Thereby, clinics building a chatbot for their sites, lower the number of repetitive calls that their specialists have to answer. This, in turn, enables hospital employees to concentrate on more significant tasks which will lead to better healthcare service quality.
Why Chatbots are not Used More Often?
In spite of their potential, virtual personal assistants are experiencing some difficulties on the path to widespread adoption. Let’s figure out the reasons for that:
- The elderly still prefer to avoid utilizing digital technologies, and the insufficiency of a personalized approach in this area interferes with business expansion;
- Chatbots are sensitive to hacking, potentially placing private information at risk similar to other IT solutions;
- Algorithms chatbot technologies utilization and the way their capabilities are applied should be extremely accurate as clinical decisions will be taken based on their suggestions or risk scores.
Apparently, the potential for chatbots to improve healthcare quality is enormous.
Today virtual assistants play a rather niche role, however, with the increasing number of medical institutions adopting new telemedicine techniques, it’s likely patients will use them more and more frequently.