Last Updated on May 20, 2022

The global healthcare chatbots market accounted for $116.9 million in 2018 and is expected to reach a whopping $345.3 million by 2026, registering a CAGR of 14.5% from 2019 to 2026. 

Take a moment. Let that sink in.

Over the last couple of years, especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for chatbots in healthcare has grown exponentially.

And why not.

A couple of years back, no one could have even fathomed the extent to which chatbots could be leveraged across industries, let alone healthcare. 

But, once the pandemic hit, the healthcare industry was thrown into utter chaos. As if the massive spike in patient intake and overworked health practitioners were not enough, healthcare professionals found themselves battling with yet another critical aspect. Patient anxiety.

Patient anxiety automatically translated into a need to provide instantaneous and accurate information to patients and intelligent chatbots played a key role in managing patient queries, providing timely information, and keeping panicked patients at bay.  Soon enough organisations like WHO and CDC started adopting conversational AI-powered chatbots to provide curated information to a wide audience with ease.

Two years later, chatbots are no longer just a vehicle for information dissemination. They are an integral part of healthcare with broader applications. It is safe to say that as we seem to reach the end of the tunnel with the COVID-19 pandemic, chatbots are here to stay and they play an important role when envisioning the future of healthcare.

“When we emerge from this crisis, chatbots are likely to become digital portals for interactive healthcare” 

Kay Firth-Butterfield, Head of AI & ML, World Economic Forum.

So then this brings us to the question. How exactly are chatbots being leveraged in the healthcare industry today? What are the applications and use cases of chatbots in the healthcare industry?

This is precisely what we cover in this article, along with some examples to accurately illustrate the role of chatbots in healthcare.

Let’s dive right in.

Understanding the use cases of chatbots in the healthcare industry

1. Enhance patient engagement

Patient engagement is a tricky concept.

For the uninitiated, patient engagement simply means that the healthcare system enables patients to take basic healthcare into their own hands. It involves a constant flow of information from the practitioner’s side and from the patient’s side, it involves timely check-ins and incorporating healthy habits.

It is evident that patient engagement thrives on two-way communication.

Earlier this involved folks calling hospitals and clinics, which was fine. But, ever since the pandemic hit, a larger number of people are now understanding the importance of such practices and this means that healthcare institutions are now dealing with higher call volumes than ever before.

This is precisely where chatbots come in. Healthcare practices can equip their chatbots to take care of basic queries, collect patient information, and provide health-related information whenever needed.

Here’s an example

Livi, a conversational AI-powered chatbot implemented by UCHealth, has been helping patients pay better attention to their health with timely interventions from their healthcare provider. While the use case for Livi started out with something as simple as answering simple questions, today Livi is a key tool for patient engagement at UCHealth.

Livi can provide patients with information specific to them, help them find their test results, interact with their doctors through messages, and so much more. She is an integral part of the patient journey at UCHealth with a sharp focus on enabling a smooth and seamless patient experience.

2. Symptom assessment before in-person appointments


You are a healthcare provider. Every day, you have thousands of patients walking in with different symptoms. Your doctors are exhausted, patients are tired of waiting, and you are at the end of your tether trying to work out a solution.

Now, let’s reimagine the situation with a healthcare chatbot in place.

You discover that you can implement and train a chatbot in such a way that once a patient enters all of his symptoms, the bot is able to analyze them against certain parameters and provide a diagnosis along with information on what to do next.

This reduces the burden on hospitals and clinics since it brings down the number of patients that come in with symptoms that are not urgent and allows practitioners to focus on patients that are in need of critical care.

Another advantage is that the chatbot has already collected all of the required data and symptoms before the patient’s scheduled visit, equipping doctors to go through their appointments quicker and more efficiently. Not only does this help health practitioners but it also alerts patients in case of serious medical conditions.

Here’s an example

Symptomate is a multi-language chatbot that is able to assess symptoms and instruct patients about next steps. The workflow is quite simple. You need to enter your symptoms, followed by answering some simple questions. This completes your assessment. You will then go on to receive a detailed report, complete with possible causes, options for next steps, and suggested lab tests.
Kommunicate chatbot screenshot

3. Scheduling appointments with ease

One of the most prevalent uses of chatbots in healthcare is to book and schedule appointments. 

Implementing a chatbot for appointment scheduling takes away the monotony of filling out dozens of forms and eases the entire process of bookings. They can provide information on aspects like doctor availability, and booking slots, and also match patients with the right physicians and specialists.

In addition, using chatbots for appointment scheduling cuts down on the need for healthcare staff to attend to these trivial tasks. By automating the entire process of booking, healthcare practices can save on time and have their staff focus on more complex tasks.

4. Maintaining patient records and enabling online consultations.

AI chatbots in the healthcare sector can be leveraged to collect, store, and maintain patient data. This can be recalled whenever necessary in order to help healthcare practitioners keep track of patient health, understand a patient’s medical history, prescriptions, tests ordered, and so much more.

This increases the efficiency of doctors and diagnosticians and allows them to offer high-quality care at all times.

Case in point, Navia Life Care uses an AI-enabled voice assistant for its doctors. It is HIPAA compliant and can collect and maintain patient medical records with utmost privacy and security. Doctors simply have to pull up these records with a few clicks, and they have the entire patient history mapped out in front of them.

The chatbot can collect patients’ phone numbers and even enable patients to get video consultations in cases where they cannot travel to their nearest healthcare provider. Both practitioners as well as patients, can highly benefit from this implementation.

5. Appointment reminders and other critical notifications


Chatbots can be trained to send out appointment reminders and notifications such as medicine alerts. Advanced chatbots can also track various health parameters and alert patients in case immediate medical intervention is required. This is again, another critical use case for chatbots in healthcare.

Here’s an example


Take Florence, a “virtual” nurse as an example. She is able to remind patients to take their medicines on time, a feature that is quite useful to the elderly. She’s also able to track your body weight, mood, and other indicators to ensure you are healthy and fit.  Florence can continually learn new things and is quite helpful in telling more about a disease or simply locating the nearest pharmacy or doctor.

Identifying healthcare services

A number of healthcare practices, such as clinics and diagnostic laboratories, have incorporated chatbots into their patient journey touchpoints. Such chatbots provide information about the nearest health checkup centres, health screening packages and their guidelines, interpretation of test results, and so much more.

It allows information to be disseminated quickly, effectively, and at reduced costs.

Mind, a multifaceted healthcare group, uses a chatbot on its website that offers comprehensive information on a number of health screening packages, COVID-19 detection tests, clinic locations, operating hours, and so much more.

The chatbot offers website visitors a number of options with clear guidelines on how to prepare for tests such as non-fasting and fasting health checkups, how to prepare for them, what to expect with results, and more.

And what’s even more interesting is that the chatbot has extensive information on fitness classes and virtual workouts offered by Minmed. You can even book your workouts through the chatbot!

kommunicate chatbot on minmed

Conclusion

Clearly, there are quite a number of use cases for chatbots in healthcare. When envisioning the future, automation and conversational AI-powered chatbots definitely pave the way for seamless healthcare assistance.

But, despite the many benefits of chatbots in healthcare, a number of organisations are still hesitant to incorporate bots and automation into their processes. This arises due to the fact that chatbots are prone to errors and can sometimes be difficult to implement, especially for non-developers who do not have the skill or knowledge to code to their requirements.

However, today’s state of the art technology enables us to overcome these challenges. For instance, Kommunicate builds healthcare chatbots that can automate 80% of patient interactions. Not only can these chatbots manage appointments, send out reminders, and offer around the clock support, but they pay close attention to the safety, security, and privacy of their users.

If you’d like to know more about our healthcare chatbots and how we can enhance your patient experience, simply get in touch with our customer experience experts here.

For more on chatbots

If you are interested in knowing how chatbots work, read our articles on What are Chatbot, How to make chatbot and natural language processing.


At Kommunicate, we are envisioning a world-beating customer support solution to empower the new era of customer support. We would love to have you onboard to have a first-hand experience of Kommunicate. You can signup here and start delighting your customers right away.

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