How are medical chatbots transforming patient care?

Summary

  • Software developed using machine learning algorithms, chatbots provide real-time assistance to patients.
  • In the healthcare industry, chatbots can assist the clinical staff by reducing their daily caseloads.
  • Chatbots have several applications in the medical sector, including diagnosis of symptoms, mental healthcare consultation, nutrition facts and tracking, and many more.

Chatbots are software developed with machine learning (ML) algorithms for stimulating and engaging in a conversation with a user to provide real-time assistance to patients. Chatbots have applications across multiple industries including retail, banking, news media, social media, and customer service. Healthcare providers, including medical assistants, have also started to leverage these artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled chatbot tools for simplifying patient care and cutting unnecessary expenses.

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In this article, we will highlight the application, benefits, and challenges of using chatbots in the healthcare industry-

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Chatbot applications in healthcare

Chatbots have multiple applications in the healthcare industry. They offer diagnosis of symptoms, mental healthcare consultation, nutrition facts and tracking, and much more.  

Let us look at some major applications of chatbots in the healthcare space:

Provide medical information: Chatbot algorithms are designed on the basis of enormous healthcare data, including symptoms of disease, diagnostics, as well as available treatments. Different bots offer a humanized experience to make users feel that they are communicating to a real person. For numerous individuals, talking about anxiety could be highly useful for creating better mental health, and there are chatbots specifically designed to provide mental health support.

Conversational chatbots use different intelligence levels and can understand the user’s questions and offer answers on the basis of pre-defined labels set in the training data.

Schedule appointments: Chatbots are integrated into the medical facility to extract data for suitable physicians, available slots, and working days for clinics and pharmacy. They take patients’ information related to their current health issue, look for matching doctors, provide available time slots, and schedule, reschedule, and delete appointments for patients.

Monitoring patient health: Chatbots can also work as a reminder for patients to follow their medication schedule. They can be integrated into the device calendars of users to remind and update about their medical appointments.

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Patient data collection: Chatbots can extract patient information by using simple information of patients, for instance - name, address, symptoms, current doctor, as well as insurance details. They store this information in the medical facility system for facilitating patient admission, doctor-patient communication, symptom tracking, and medical record keeping.

Health insurance inquiries: Chatbots can offer insurance services and healthcare resources to patients and users. Besides, they also integrate robotic process automation (RPA) or other automation solutions that allow automating insurance claim processing along with healthcare billing.

Request prescription refills: Nowadays, every website has a chatbot waiting to assist you in website navigation and solve any minor concerns. In this respect, chatbots may issue reminders, schedule appointments, or help refill prescription medicines in the future.

Health Tracking: Patients who regularly require healthcare support can benefit from chatbot services. For instance, medical providers can utilize chatbots to make a connection between patients and physician.

Such chatbots can offer detailed health conditions’ track record of patient and help in analyzing the effects of the prescribed management medicine.

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Benefits of using chatbots in healthcare

There are multiple advantages of using hybrid chatbots in healthcare. For example, medical chatbots help in reducing the workload of healthcare professionals by lowering the hospital visits of patients, lowering unnecessary treatments, and decreasing hospital admissions.

AI-enabled chatbots offer several advantages to healthcare practices. Some major advantages are:

  • Chatbots enhance patient access; hence there would be easy access to the doctor.
  • Help save time as less time spent commuting to the doctor’s office.
  • Chatbots not only interact with patients but also help with internal record-keeping and offer quick data.
  • Chatbot help save money spent on unnecessary treatments and tests.

Risks and challenges related to chatbots usage

Although chatbots offer multiple advantages, medical advisers should be aware of the challenges to ensure the best possible outcomes for healthcare agencies and clients. Key risks and challenges associated with chatbot use in the medical sector include-

  • Probable threat of provision of wrong medical data.
  • The lack of face-to-face interaction.
  • User privacy vulnerability.

Chatbots provide an ocean of opportunities for the healthcare service providers. Further, the global COVID-19 pandemic has driven a need for chatbots to offer healthcare assistance without risking healthcare workers. The benefits of using chatbots outweigh the challenges, and thus, chatbots adoption is likely to increase in the future.

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