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We Need To Chat-a-Bot Health Care

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Chatbots will connect doctors and nurses of the future with their digital needs. Photo; Gushkenova; Shutterstock

If you’ve ever had to go on to a health care organisation’s website to find information, you’ve probably had a frustrating experience. Even the best are hard to navigate to reach the precise information you want. But that’s about to change thanks to the chatbot revolution, as I found when talking to Henri Ben Ezra, CEO of Snatchbot.me

What would be the first benefit of chatbots for the healthcare industry?

Chatbots are interactive.

At the moment most healthcare organisations have a passive relationship to their clients when it comes to communication. The client searches the website unaided. There has been some attempt to provide information via alternate platforms, but this often worsens the problem rather than improving it because of a lack of inter-operability between applications.

Most organisations, including hospitals and medical practices, have done little to advance their client communications systems. Often their best effort is a question and answer page on a website. This is very limiting and patients are frustrated. Now for the revolution. With a chatbot the conversation goes back and forth, allowing the client to navigate towards information they want with great precision. Users and caregivers are made to feel empowered. Using a chatbot they receive a better and simpler to operate — through speech — information provider which works in real time, answering the questions on the spot. This is efficient, responsive and inclusive.

Not only do consumers want quick easy access to information but they want the interaction to be engaging and personal. This is where chatbots have a real advantage. The user is made to feel they are included in the process of their health. Patients who feel included, who are interacting through chatbots with the healthcare system, will stay with the system, and that is important for them and the healthcare provider.

How do patients feel about interacting with Chatbots?

Chatbots give clients a friendlier experience.

It has been well attested that people prefer the sense of conversation and interaction that comes with a chatbot over navigating with a mouse and click. And, they prefer chatbots to scripted interactions. Whether it is something deep rooted in our humanity that we anthropomorphise, the fact is that people feel happier with a communication experience via a bot than otherwise.

Customers have had to navigate traditional one-sided transaction menus and screens and automated computer language instead of human language. This is frustrating and time consuming. What they get with chatbots is human language interaction, or, what is known as conversational healthcare. This is much more enjoyable for patients as the interaction is humanised, giving them a personalised proactive experience.

Through chatbots, answers are obtained quickly and efficiently. Who has the time to be put on hold on the phone or hustled from one department to another? None of us. We want the information as quickly as possible. A chatbot saves time, freeing patients up for other activities.

Are Chatbots secure?

They certainly can be. In our case, with the SnatchBot platform, we pre-build all the security and administration requirements and scalability that the largest enterprises in the world expect. Bots built on Snatchbot.me come with the highest standards of security. The platform also provides a framework so developers can build bots that perform with remarkable consistency across all chosen channels.

As a matter of fact, SnatchBot exceeds enterprise-grade standards, providing not only enhanced security but also enabling administrators to retain exclusive oversight of bot distribution and use, including management of software licenses, user behaviour insights, and deep analytics. SnatchBot supports all cryptographic security needs to protect an enterprise’s data.

Do you see other benefits to Healthcare from Chatbots?

Chatbots can have functionality. This includes so many areas it is mind boggling. For instance appointments can be scheduled. Patients can provide information which their caregiver may use to reduce unnecessary readmissions and organise post discharge follow-ups. There is a strong safety net in the functionality too. Alerts can be a function of chatbots. A chatbot can signal hospital staff if patients need assistance and even inform care teams of urgent changes in a patient’s status or an emergency situation.

Chatbots can also take much of the tedium out of front office healthcare; they can streamline admissions, discharge and transfer requests, schedule patient consultation requests and send and receive referrals. They can be programmed to facilitate collaboration between peers and update record systems with patient’s medical history, send alerts and notifications for prescription refills. No longer will a patient turn up at a consultation only to find their notes have not been provided, chatbots will automatically send relevant training material, patient history and pertinent data to the necessary parties ensuring the smooth running of the health system. And while it is nearly impossible to integrate information sources, chatbots can create a single system of records by transferring data from legacy systems to new databases, saving health care systems time and money.

In short, chatbots can save thousands of working hours a year for a Health Care organisation, leading to either cost savings or a better quality of service for the user.

Henri, how do chatbots deal with the sheer number of different ways people search for information?

Chatbots allow the patient to interact with the health care organisation via their platform of choice. Every day vast amounts of information are being gathered and stored in the healthcare sector. It is kept in a confusing array of different systems, applications and data silos. Chatbots will allow safe access of this information to the relevant patient, regardless of platform, and allow the exchange of data from disparate health systems. This will unify the data stream and manage interactions in a way not previously possible.

In the fast-paced modern world with multiple information platforms, chatbots unite the digital playing field to provide seamless integration regardless of location, device or time. The chatbot is able to access information and respond to patient queries over a range of channels. Wherever the user is, chatbots provide answers in an easy to understand and conversational manner.

I’m guessing another benefit of chatbots, is to Health Care Organisations themselves?

Yes. Not only do chatbots enhance the experience of patients in their interaction with their health service providers, chatbots can also facilitate the data needs of healthcare professionals and provide other benefits to the organisation as a whole. We have already spoken about the functionality and labour-saving aspects of chatbots. There is also the issue of information and analysis. Chatbots can manage the millions of data stored by the health care organisation and use the metrics from the interactions for analysis. This data can be used to predict trends and meet the demands of their customers. On the back of this, chatbots can produce real-time analytics and reports which reduce the need for audits. Another benefit is that through chatbot programming, data use is performed in full compliance with all health care standards and regulations so the organisation knows it is on safe ground. Additionally, a health care organisation using chatbots reduces or even eliminates human error in HIPAA challenges.

So, in summary Henri, where is all this going?

As I have discussed, chatbots are an interactive system which provides a high quality patient experience, work on multiple platforms and give massive data collection tools for the health organisation which uses them. Chatbots, through consumer information servicing, are about to bring a revolution to healthcare systems. We are at the forefront of that revolution at Snatchbot.me


We Need To Chat-a-Bot Health Care was originally published in Chatbots Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: Chatbots Magazine

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