The Next Frontier for Healthcare Services: AI-enabled Healthcare Systems
Conversational AI was critical in providing healthcare services during the coronavirus pandemic, serving as healthcare front-liners available to patients 24/7. Chatbots and virtual assistants checked symptoms, scheduled appointments, answered frequently asked questions, escalated emergency cases, and sent reminders to patients.
Using artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, such as natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML), these chatbots carried out conversations with human users, understanding intent, context, and sentiment, to ensure the correct response.
The Growth of Conversational AI
According to BlueWeave Consulting, the global conversation AI market reached US$6.9 billion in 2021, and it’s estimated to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 23.4% to US$29.9 billion by 2028. This growth is driven by the demand for better customer support, increasing its adoption in verticals, such as healthcare and life sciences.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced organizations to deploy conversational AI due to the spike in customer service requests. Therefore, hospitals and clinics worldwide have accelerated their use of AI and software solutions to optimize and complement the healthcare assistance already on offer.
How Humans and AI Can Work Together
Despite its proven usefulness, there is some reluctance among medical practitioners to adopt AI technologies. There is a misconception that AI will replace doctors, nurses, and other allied health professionals. However, there are limits to what AI can do. Understanding that chatbots and virtual assistants are not capable of replacing humans, healthcare providers are increasingly more accepting of conversational AI.
Instead of being seen as a threat, conversational AI works with human healthcare providers to help improve patient engagement, save time and cost, and deliver better services.
Increase Patient Engagement
Patient engagement has been called the “blockbuster drug of the century.” Those actively engaged with their healthcare have better health outcomes. They make better decisions about their health, stick to their appointments, and have an improved quality of life.
TeleVox and Kelton Research revealed that 83% of Americans don’t follow their prescribed treatment plans, and 42% feel they would comply more with their treatment plan if they got encouragement between visits.
Chatbots can help to bridge this gap. They can provide people looking for healthcare information, such as listing options for providers, assessing their symptoms, and updating them about their test results. They can also send reminders to patients about their next doctor’s appointment, track their progress toward their health goals, and prompt them to perform specific actions to help them stick to their treatment plan.
Save Time and Money
According to Accenture, AI applications can save the U.S. healthcare economy around US$150 billion annually by 2026. While this estimate covers all essential clinical health AI applications, the savings from virtual assistants are around US$20 billion annually. Conversational AI helps save time and money for both patients and healthcare providers.
Savings for Patients
Sometimes, a doctor’s visit is unnecessary. Instead of going to a clinic or hospital for non-emergency cases, people can interact online with a healthcare chatbot to understand their symptoms and take the appropriate action.
Chatbots are also a better alternative to calling customer support regarding basic information. Patients save time waiting in a long queue to talk to someone. Chatbots are available anytime, all the time.
Savings for Healthcare Providers
Hospitals and clinics can save money by shifting resources from their call center to conversational AI. Chatbot interactions cost much less than the traditional customer support services. Conversational AI offers an always-available, instant, and more consistent user experience.
For healthcare professionals, conversational AI can cut down the time for administrative tasks and reduce operational costs. Employees can use the same chatbot platform to submit requests, get updates, download forms, check status, access lab reports, and review schedules. And they don’t have to call different departments to get information.
They can also use conversational AI for internal record-keeping and keeping track of hospital resources, such as wheelchairs and blood pressure cuffs. Chatbots can free up significant time for healthcare workers to focus on critical tasks and higher-value work.
Deliver More Effective Healthcare Services
There are many use cases for conversational AI, including appointment scheduling, symptoms assessment, emergency case escalation, answering frequently asked questions, and many more.
AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants help hospitals and clinics deliver more efficient and effective healthcare services in the following ways.
Conversational AI helps deliver faster, more timely healthcare services. Patients can get the information they need faster. They can book appointments faster, and through triaging, can take more immediate action for emergency cases.
Limited office or hospital hours restrict the ability of patients to interact with healthcare workers and other employees. Chatbots are available all the time. For swamped healthcare providers, conversational AI is a significant boon in serving as the first line of service.
Chatbots can be available in multiple languages. Healthcare providers may be serving patients who prefer interacting in Spanish or Chinese, for example. Global healthcare institutions that attract patients worldwide must also deploy a multilingual chatbot to cater to non-English speaking customers.
Multilingual conversational AI allows healthcare providers to reach and support a wider audience. It also enhances the customer experience and supports better health outcomes for patients who are more comfortable conversing in their native language.
Greater Accuracy and Consistency
Instead of manually updating records across different systems, chatbots can be integrated with other systems, like CRM, ERP, and EMR systems. As such, patient data is easily accessible, accurate, and consistent.
Talking to different human agents or healthcare workers can lead to various customer experiences. These can be in the form of conflicting information or contrasting behavior, however, this will not happen with conversational AI. AI-powered chatbots that use machine learning improve over time and deliver a more consistent user experience.
Multilingual Conversational AI
Healthcare providers serving patients that speak in other languages should consider deploying a multilingual chatbot. Consumers prefer self-service to find solutions to their problems instead of speaking to a customer service agent. They want speed and convenience. At the same time, they want to interact with brands in their language.
Adding multilingual support for conversational AI adds another layer of complexity. This is where a language service provider (LSP) with deep experience in conversational AI comes in. Welocalize develops high-quality conversational AI multilingual training data sets, so you can create conversational AI systems that understand text and speech in multiple languages.
Learn more about the various use cases for conversational AI in healthcare and deploying multilingual conversational AI. Download our whitepaper entitled “Navigating the Future of Healthcare with Conversational AI.”