The healthcare industry is facing a severe shortage of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers globally. The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened this problem as dedicated health professionals must attend to Covid patients exclusively. According to the estimates of the World Health Organization (WHO), we need over 4 million health professionals in addition to the current workforce worldwide, to be able to offer quality healthcare to the entire population.
The current set of doctors and health professionals are not only vulnerable to Covid-19 but are also too overworked at all levels. Such overburdened physicians are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, making them prone to committing negligence and errors.
To overcome this debilitating doctor shortage, several reforms have been proposed by countries across the world. This involves reducing the hurdles that international medical graduates face while conducting their practice, easing the physician licensing process, and creating reforms that recommend affordable and enhanced access to medical care for people from all economic and social backgrounds.
While such ideas are commendable, one must not disregard modern technologies’ role in getting the healthcare industry back on the growth path. Conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI) in healthcare is all set to reinvent the industry’s entire bottom lines.
A Guide to Conversational AI in Healthcare
The healthcare industry is ready for multiple use cases of conversational AI. If applied appropriately, these systems can have a significant impact on our lives and the medical world. A few nations have already started using conversational AI on a large scale to bolster their healthcare services. Here is a list of some critical use cases of conversational AI in the healthcare sector:
Doctor appointment booking
Booking an appointment at a hospital is one of the more transactional patient queries. Chatbots or voice bots can guide a patient through the required information over a conversation and ultimately finish the transaction by approving, deferring, or terminating appointments.
Earlier, you would email the hospital’s customer care team directly or call them to book an appointment for health check-ups at a hospital. Some hospital’s website used to have a feature where patients could check the calendar and get a suitable time slot.
Today, chatbots are being used to get this done, just like speaking to an assistant. You have to enter what you wish to know through a series of chats, following which you will obtain a slot to book your appointment. You also get to search for physicians based on their specific disciplines while booking an appointment, all in the conversational interface.
Triaging and emergency case escalation
When a person develops any health symptoms, it could either be insignificant or may point to the need for urgent escalation and emergency care. Being able to classify these high priority symptoms and guiding them to an ambulance is critical. This can be achieved through a step-by-step diagnostic tool.
In a health crisis such as the current pandemic, use cases like triaging could prove to be immensely useful for swamped healthcare institutes. Healthcare conversational AI could be used to focus on screening patients and triaging treatment. Bots will collect patients’ symptoms data, and they will be instructed to take proper action as per the seriousness of their conditions.
Resolving Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The FAQ section is one of the most generic components on all websites. Clinics and hospitals have transformed this section into a chatbot feature on their website’s homepage dedicated to answering general queries. This becomes helpful for users to find information. For instance, a bot can respond to questions like the documents needed to receive treatment, information on payment tariffs, insurance coverage, and more.
An interactive bot has today become a one-stop-shop for all general queries that patients may have. They no longer have to call the healthcare center or waste time going through the website to find the relevant information.
Patient data recovery and scheduling
The use of conversational AI cases in the healthcare sector is not limited to just patients. Healthcare professionals can help chatbots recover the personal data of discharged patients and admit new patients. With easy access to patients’ medical records, care teams are empowered to take appropriate action and offer personalized treatment to make the patient visit more productive. Healthcare professionals can also assess their patient load during the day and allocate nurses and physicians to other departments and shifts through push notifications and reminders.
A chatbot aimed to cater to a healthcare center’s needs could let patients book their appointments within a minute without getting in touch with a receptionist or human agent. Chatbots also help medical centers deal with unlimited user queries, and the staff will not be swamped with the number of questions, no matter how high it gets.
Hiring and training of employees
Large healthcare firms are regularly recruiting new employees and getting them on board. Credentials have to be double-checked, and a lot of paperwork has to be taken care of to handle these applications. By using chatbots in such facilities, the job of HR personnel becomes easier. For instance, recruits could subscribe to a voice bot or chatbot and get integrated into the onboarding activity or get information about the organization.
An establishment can use chatbots to send files to recruits when required, remind them to complete their forms automatically, and automate other tasks for their employees, such as requests for maternity leave, vacation time, and others.
Patient engagement chatbot
Conversational AI in healthcare can also be used to keep patients engaged in the post-treatment phase. We are now familiar with how bots help users diagnose and schedule appointments for treatment. But the post-treatment phase is just as essential, if not more.
Patient engagement chatbots help medical centers and hospitals check in on their well-being and keep track of their vitals frequently after treatment. They can inform them about taking their pills on time and push them on the right path to avert any relapse. The outcome is a wholly recovered patient on the one hand and less burdened healthcare staff with enough time to spare for critical patients in the hospitals on the other.
Tomorrow’s hospitals with Conversational AI
Conversational AI has already made a potent case for the overburdened healthcare sector. It presents an insightful, patient-centric, and interactive approach to revive the industry, which is presently combating the twin challenges of a deadly pandemic and chronic undersupply of healthcare workers leading to low-quality care.
Today, conventional voice recognition systems are disconnected and static. However, with healthcare conversational AI tools, responsiveness has come to the fore. The patients/customers raise their concerns, and healthcare conversational chatbots grasp them and steer them to the right response while leveraging their power to mimic human compassion and thought. Here are two key areas where conversational AI is bringing much-needed strength to the healthcare sector.
Transforming Care and Lowering Physicians’ Workload
Conversational AI in the healthcare sector has worked wonders when used for patients located in remote areas. When a patient is critical, individualized assessment is needed urgently, and here’s where conversational AI has helped. It has pioneered the idea of telemedicine bots that healthcare providers could use to diagnose, treat, and deliver clinical services remotely. The Coronavirus pandemic has accelerated this process of bots successfully communicating the procedures and instructions that need to be followed by a patient’s family until help arrives.
Today, NLP-enabled bots are helping physicians retrieve vital information promptly without meddling with intricate CRM tools. They are aiding doctors in the process of administering medications. With AI chatbots saving each patient’s medical record in a database, doctors are empowered to prescribe the treatment swiftly and anticipate problems before they appear.
Revolutionizing Patient Experience
As mentioned earlier, the skewed doctor-patient ratio forces doctors to look after an unprecedented number of patients in their schedule that undermines treatment quality. Conversational AI has substantially raised the service quality bar by automating mundane processes. The technology helps healthcare workers identify symptoms promptly, categorize patients who need attention from the less critical ones, and accordingly plan appointments. Additionally, they can gather necessary information during patient check-ins, getting rid of the possibility of any blunders.
Through cognitive behavioral therapy, conversational AI scopes down the number of needless doctors visit, thereby helping patients save time and money. Healthcare AI applications are assisting patients in entering their details, and in return, they are getting a precise assessment of their ailments without any disappointment or delay.
Conversational AI reminds patients of the medicines they must take and ensures that they adhere to the doctor’s orders. Despite these significant advancements, there is undoubtedly a lot of room for improvement in the healthcare sector regarding AI and other groundbreaking technological solutions.