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Dr. Siri Will See You Now: Addressing Healthcare Consumerism Through Medical Chatbots

“Would Amazon build a new service without putting customers in the center? Would Tesla build a new electric car without asking clients what they were expecting? So why in 2019 in healthcare do we not even ask patients what they need?” — Michael Seres, Founder of 11.health

The healthcare industry is undergoing several shifts, one of the most notable being a reimagining of the primary care experience. Beyond the reliance on “Dr. Google” or “Dr. Bing”, consumers are demanding instant access to information and immediate fulfillment of needs that also provides the human experience of a doctor-patient interaction and that acts as an extension of that relationship as well. In this way, patients are acting, or wish to act, as well-informed consumers.

Into this world of “healthcare consumerism” has entered a wide range of new solutions to help provide consumers (patients) with the information and access they need from their various healthcare providers. As Christopher Ross of the Mayo Clinic said, “Co-creation with citizens and patients is a transformational change we want to see in healthcare.”

 

Types of digital solutions that provide or facilitate patient care

Patient Care is a term meaning any interaction between healthcare providers and patients that is focused on curing or any other procedure aimed at improving patient’s physical or mental health.

Today Patient Care and healthcare services are increasingly delivered with the use of technology. Digital Solutions, such as Conversational Interfaces (ChatBots), delivering Patient Care cannot replace real doctors, however, can bring significant benefits to both healthcare providers/technology vendors and patients.

Here are some use-cases for facilitated patient care:

  1. Care Coordination: Patient engagement platforms that allow medical institutions to keep all parties involved in patient treatment coordinated and informed through chatBots, messaging email, etc.
  2. Patient Experience: Tools that help healthcare providers improve patient experience, again through chatBots, messaging email, etc.
    • Communication: Tools that are aimed at facilitating communication between healthcare professionals and patients such as reviewing and/or reporting symptoms, eliciting advice, etc.
    • Booking Appointments: Solutions that allow patients and clinicians to better collaborate over secure messaging
    • Messaging: Intelligence Solutions that remove clutter from physicians’ mailboxes, allowing them to efficiently manage their time and patients to message with Medical Services
    • Other services such as Diet & Exercise Tracking and Advice, Mental Health Support, etc.
  3. Referrals: Special platforms aimed at helping physicians transfer patients to the right healthcare professionals for further treatment
  4. Hospital Navigation: Digital tools that help patients navigate within medical buildings
  5. Patient Monitoring: Monitoring status tools for remote or bedside patient by integrating ChatBots with Medical IoT
  6. Diagnostics: Digital components that allow managing diagnostics equipment or consulting patient regarding their symptoms (by integrating ChatBots with Medical IoT
  7. Medication inventory software: Solutions that allow healthcare organizations to efficiently manage their inventory, deliver medication to patients, verify prescriptions

 

Building Medical Chatbots Using Conversional AI platforms.

One of the biggest medical challenges is how to improve patient communication both before and after visiting  a medical facility. Before visiting a doctor, it is now common for  a person to look online for some basic diagnostic information, or to perhaps review what in essence is an extensive FAQ about symptoms and remedies. This is an ideal, even basic  use case for chatbots. These systems can help guide the person through the same types of questions a doctor or nurse might’s, changing the questions contextually as the use rides more information. If it is determined that an office visit is necessary, the chatbot can even schedule it and confirm insurance coverage.

Another challenge is how to improve patient care after an office visit, or even after a hospital stay. In far too many cases, discharged patients are provided with some handouts but too little opportunity to interact with medical personnel. Worse yet, language barriers can prevent patients and their families from properly following up. Conversational AI systems based on SmartBotHub can solve these problems. Patients can ask questions using normal, everyday language and the system can provide them with highly accurate information based on that patient’s specific context and history. And SmartBotHub’s multilingual support allows you to provide the same level of patient support regardless of language.

Instead, SmartBotHub intelligently translates each customer’s intent, as expressed through their own language, to determine the best way to get them what they need. This goes beyond trying to mimic human-like interactions or tricking the user into thinking they are conversing with a live agent. It’s about understanding their intent and addressing it quickly and effectively.

 

Finding the Right Partner

As conversational platforms get increasingly leveraged – for building applications to enhance user experience, automate tasks and process information – the focus shifts on choosing the right partner for your success. Bespoke solutions typically specialize in specific domains (the ‘brains’) where the platform side (the ‘plumbing’) tends to be weak. Alternatively, a strong platform player typically tends to be weak on domain expertise (the ‘brains’). The happy compromise may well be picking a vendor with domain expertise and building the platform around it – it would also make sense in some instances to bring a second vendor with a flexible platform architecture and use their platform. For the second year in a row, Gartner has recognized SmarTek21’s SmartBotHub as one of the leading platforms for building enterprise-class chatbots and virtual assistants. To learn more, visit our Healthcare Systems practice page or contact us at info@smartek21.com.

 

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