Healthcare Chatbots: Benefits, Examples & Benefits

Healthcare chatbots are designed to assist patients and avoid issues that might arise during business hours.

Daniel Ternyak
February 22, 2023

What Is A Healthcare Chatbot?

Healthcare chatbots are powered by artificial intelligence or AI. As an application on its own, chatbots are built to mimic the conversations of a real human, helping healthcare providers and their clients interact with one another through the use of language in a natural way.

Such chatbots can handle a huge spread of tasks relating to healthcare. Some of the most common is getting answers to patient queries, making schedules for future appointments, giving patients reminders for taking their medication, and sending out personal health suggestions when asked for them.

As technology grows at an incredible rate of advancement, the use of smartphones has spread into mainstream society, where everyone in all age groups now uses them regularly. Mobile devices are now computerized, no longer rudimentary devices previously used for talking to others over a voice chat.

With the gain made in the smartphone industry in the last decade, chatbots are now considered to be essential to the healthcare industry as a whole. They allow for convenient and efficient methods for patients to interact with medical providers when they're needed. No better was this demonstrated than during the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual care's growing usefulness is more apparent than ever before.

How Do Healthcare Chatbots Work?

Healthcare chatbots are created by programmers that rely on machine learning and natural processing tech.

They're built to learn and find interpretations in languages that humans use, helping them during chats with patients that feels no different from one responding to a real human on the other end of the line.

There are some medical chatbots built to give health advice for various services, such as triage care. When communicating online with a chatbot for this, patients can detail the symptoms they're having and the chatbot will assess how severe the condition is.

Chatbots can provide suggestions over what actions a patient should take afterward. In some circumstances, chatbots could send the patient resources needed for getting emergency help, such as phone numbers to local hospitals or even emergency contact info.

Some chatbots are made to assist patients in managing symptoms of a more chronic nature, like hypertension, asthma, and diabetes. When doing this, chatbots can give the patient reminders of when to take insulin, help them keep track of ongoing symptoms, and give recommendations on ways they can manage their problems from home or work.

They can even be used by patients to schedule upcoming appointments, keep up with them, or move to a later date.

Registration with them is also possible. Booking appointments and checking an appointment's status has become easier to do online, thanks to chatbots.

Along with using patient applications, health chatbots can assist providers by automating tasks that were once done by administrators. These include data entry and keeping up with patient records.

They can even help doctors perform medical research as they gather data from patients and analyze it, pinpointing different trends it could be programmed to see across all the patients it speaks with.

A big advantage of health chatbots is that they're on-call all day, every day. This gives patients with a smartphone or computer instantaneous access to medical support and health-related advice.

No longer must patients wait for a clinic or hospital to call their provider. As a result, this has cut down waiting times in places with heavy use of chatbots tremendously.

Still, even with the numerous benefits of health chatbots, concerns, and challenges are present.

The advice given by chatbots is medical and must be carefully evaluated to study, including the confidentiality and security measures surrounding the data gathered from patients.

Regardless, health chatbots give novel solutions to healthcare providers, showing that patients with web access can receive support and medical advice no matter where they are. The technology is still in its early stages, however, so advancements are likely to be made.

Healthcare chatbots have lots of potential to change the way the healthcare industry operates as a whole. This no doubt can boost the outcomes of patients and lower the stress of patients and doctors alike.

Benefits Of Chatbots For Healthcare Businesses

As a huge benefit to the healthcare industry as a whole, chatbots are likely to see their use spread around the world. Its ability to make healthcare more easily accessible to people in regions where its lax cannot be overstated. Listed below are some of the primary benefits of health chatbots:

  • They're always available - Emergencies of a medical nature can and do happen all the time. A patient might need to identify symptoms before making an appointment for surgery. Medical progressional may not have the time to see everyone due to being busy with other patients. This is where chatbots are helpful, as they're capable of helping doctors stay better focused on seeing patients when they do arrive instead of taking note of symptoms too early on.
  • Give crucial information instantaneously - In healthcare, time is very important. Chatbots can immediately dish out imperative info to patients, including by-the-second critical advice. For instance, when a patient has an attack a chatbot can notify a doctor with the information of a patient, their medical records provided at a previous time, any diseases they might be carrying, allergy information, and check-up history.
  • Lowers waiting times - Chatbots are capable of giving faster answers than humans can on most occasions. Some of this is due to people's variable typing speeds and the need to review data on each patient. Yet chatbots can potentially answer questions better than healthcare workers too. They're programmed to see when a patient requires assistance more than others do, namely in the event of a medical emergency or other health crisis. These are times when someone would need to see a doctor immediately.
  • Rapport building technology - Chatbots can fill in where patients lack knowledge or understanding of using web interfaces. A patient attempting to search for a symptom on a particular website with no understanding of how to get to the information they want can be upsetting for them. They may not know how to book an appointment. A health chatbot can assist with this by giving patients information that helps them learn about the symptoms, find a diagnosis, and make appointments at a time most convenient.
  • Data gathering - Chatbots can take in a user's info by asking a series of questions that is saved to a database for future reference. This is also part of building rapport. Although websites aren't perfect and can leave holes in the things a patient needs, chatbots can fill in the space where frustration previously was.
  • Gets to know every patient - Medical professionals can attend to patients individually. They can't work with them simultaneously, though some will attempt so when they're short-staffed. But chatbots can speak with multiple patients all at once with no impact on their performance or ability to assist those in conversation. They help patients find health professionals through video chats, voice calls, emails, and text messages. As a result, engagement is increased, giving doctors more time and the ability to stay focused on the patients they see instead of trying to juggle multiple patients' concerns at the same time.
  • Lowers the cost of care - The ability to lower costs without risking services provided to patients during care can prove difficult. Health chatbots assist patients in avoiding treatments that aren't needed, things that are likely all lost to medical expenses. In this sense, chatbots are both beneficial to patients and health insurance agencies wishing to restructure.
  • Is anonymous - Although most patients like getting assistance from real doctors and nurses, others may prefer to be more discreet. Health chatbots aren't human, therefore, pass no judgment on people that are looking for more privacy. This could prove very effective for patients that wish to ask questions about sensitive topics such as STD symptoms, mental health, abuse, and injuries about the genitalia.
  • Happier patients - One major issue for medical professionals and the patients they see lies in providing care that's humanized but comes from an AI bot. With the upgrade done to AI in recent years, health chatbots have boosted their level of sophistication, having the ability to scan patients to better assess their needs and give them the best info for their concerns.

7 Use Cases & Examples Of Healthcare Chatbots

1. Make appointments for patients

Health chatbots can gather info about the condition of the patients they see, their allergies, and the kind of insurance they carry to make a schedule that's easier and faster than what it would take in person. Some of the appointment details they can assist with are as follows:

  • Finding specialized care - Specialized medical clinics or lab testing centers, such as those for physical therapy.
  • Make a rescheduling of appointments - This includes appointments that are missed, delayed, or canceled.
  • Schedule scanning - Chatbots do this to search for a time slot for patients that's most appropriate for them to come in for a checkup or testing.
  • Pre-booking - This helps to keep patients' plans for treatment well-known to them in advance so they can work their schedule around their doctor's appointments if need be.
  • Using calendars and reminders from patients - If the patient prefers, some chatbots are capable of integrating their smartphone's calendars to make the perfect day and hour for an appointment.

2. Reviewing symptoms

Health chatbots are capable of asking questions to patients to get a better understanding of their symptoms. This is useful for patients that are too sick to move from their place of rest or another logging area.

In cases where patients don't have the energy to explain their symptoms by typing them out, the chatbot can begin with questions that are easy to answer or even respond to voice commands.

3. Help with medical claims and coverage

Unfortunately, it's common for patients to become overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork that sometimes must be completed. Chatbots can handle all of this for them, down to navigating where they're supposed to click on a website.

These are great for people that don't wish to call yet don't know how to use chatbots, or navigate websites for a medical facility. When it comes to assistance for coverage and other claims, chatbots can do the following:

  • Claims and coverage - This occurs when chatbots help guide patients through the website by asking questions relative to their insurance coverage. As for claims, it's when patients want to be reimbursed for an upcoming medical treatment. They can guide the patient through the entire claim as needed.

4. Mental health guidance

Assistance with mental health is possible for chatbots to do at any time during the day and night. This is important for people and families living with people that could be suffering from a mental health condition.

It's also useful for patients residing in rural regions far away from a medical facility. A mental crisis can occur at any time, including when help isn't always available from a real person. Therefore, chatbots could be of great use when there are few options for people to seek out help in other ways.

Related to mental health, here's what a chatbot can do:

  • Give useful tips to help calm down a patient, like relaxing exercises, medication, and positive reinforcement
  • Give the content information of therapists and psychiatrists that specialize in working with the patient having their condition or diagnosis.
  • Give connections to other patients that might be having an issue that's similar to their own, with additional suggestions for them on what to do, what families can do, and how to prevent self-harm

5. Gather data from patients

When patients use a health chatbot, they give AI data that's crucial to the healthcare industry. It helps in producing fewer mistakes and more improved care, especially for patients that have complex medical records and medical histories.

Such information can assist hospitals and clinics alike in bettering their services and streamlining their experience with both chatbots and real doctors. The gathered info boosts the way patients interact with the medical industry as a whole.

6. Reminders for vaccination

Chatbots can remind patients about critical immunizations they must take at any given time. The data could be gathered by asking questions to patients about the places they travel to, their line of work, and their immunizations history.

The chatbot can later send a notification to the patients when the day comes for them to get the immunization. On top of this, it can provide additional suggestions about vaccinations that are needed when planning a trip to specific nations at a later date.

7. Prescription refills request

The best way for chatbots to improve is for them to do the same things with various patients, such as reminding them about when to get a prescription refill. Chatbots can also ask questions to patients about issues they might be having in getting refills. This is good when their doctor needs to take up issues with certain medications prescribed.

10 Best Healthcare Chatbots To Try

Today, chatbots strictly for health are numerous. Some can help patients in different languages and even give info to those who are hearing and vision impaired.

Here are 10 of the best healthcare chatbots available to patients:

  • Ada - Ada checks for symptoms, using artificial intelligence gives detailed and personal assessments of health that are predicated on the symptoms of every user. It can be used in several languages other than English, at no cost at all.
  • Woebot - Woebot is a chatbot that specializes in mental health. Its primary function is the use of behavioral therapy steps that assist users in managing conditions relative to their mental health. It's a great tool for people with mild and serious mental health conditions. The chatbot can be used free of charge on Facebook and is recommended for people that have little access to mental healthcare, and require urgent assistance.
  • HealthTap - HealthTap is another chatbot that helps users get connected to physicians and other related health providers. It allows users to ask questions and get good medical tips for their symptoms. HealthTap is available as an application on both major smartphone operating systems.
  • Medisafe - Medisafe is capable of managing the medication schedules of people that use the application. It gives detailed information on medication schedules, sends reminders to patients about future medications that must be taken, and is available for download on most smartphones.
  • Your.MD - Your.MD checks for symptoms using the built-in AI as a chatbot. It sends out health advice that's both personalized and very accurate according to the symptoms listed by the user. It's readily available as a free application on all major smartphone operating systems.
  • Buoy Health - This chatbot works as a symptom checker and is downloadable on all major mobile phones.
  • Sensely - Acts as a virtual nurse assistant and can be downloaded on smartphones.
  • Florence - Manages medications for patients and retains scheduling information that can be worked into their smartphone's calendar.
  • Babylon Health - Connects patients with doctors and other health providers. Built as a free application for smartphones.
  • Livongo - Great for managing health conditions such as diabetes. Free for download on iOS and Android.