We’re currently living and working in a climate where customers are demanding nothing but the most exceptional service 24/7, 365 days a year. The healthcare industry, including telehealth and telemedicine are no different with respect to customer demands. Most industry experts agree that the only legitimate way to meet these ever-increasing demands is to automate the process using chatbots and other existing and emerging AI technologies.
One of the limitations in the past was that AI didn’t offer a very good end-user experience. Those using the technology were often left confused and frustrated when asking the most simple FAQ and being left with an answer or advice that didn’t answer their question at all.
1. Modern AI reduces long conversations, frustration, and confusion
A good example in healthcare would be a question like “How do I make a cold go away faster?” The last answer a telehealth customer wants to that question is an instructional on how to build a fire, or to put a sweater on to make the temperatures more bearable! AI has come a long way, and it’s near perfect now compared to days of old — not entirely perfect — but getting closer.
Now, AI chatbots used in online and telephone calls have answers to hundreds of common and even complex questions. This isn’t to say they can supplant actual human conversations — not yet anyway. But, in the coming years, as much as 50% of interactions between healthcare professionals and patients may be replaced by technology.
2. Fewer interruptions to busy professional’s time
Chatbots and other AI technology has come so far in the last few years that they can almost perfectly interpret what a patient is communicating online or over the telephone. Answers to common questions can be addressed, and the patient is still empowered to call their healthcare professional should they have more questions.
A patient seeking to reach a weight loss goal with the assistant of an app or their doctor can sign into an online account and get immediate encouraging feedback from a healthcare chatbot, rather than interrupting their doctor at a time when they’re predisposed dealing with other patients.
3. Streamlined communication
Doctors, specialists, personal trainers, dieticians, naturopaths, and other health professionals are constantly bombarded with questions from patients calling in or emailing them. Many of the concerns voiced are indeed frequently asked questions, such as whether it’s normal to pass a lot of gas after eating dairy rich foods, or should they go to the hospital because their child woke up and suddenly is coughing a lot.
A chatbot can be programmed to answer these common questions quickly and deal up with any followup concerns a patient may have. You’ll obviously need to have caveats in place. For instance, if a patient is claiming to have issues with mental health, chatbots need to be instructed to tell a patient to visit a specialist for a proper assessment of their symptoms. Some AI software is better than others, so choose a program or app that’s highly regarded in your industry.
4. Better results for “modern” patients
AI driven apps like those that monitor markers such as steps walked, blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugars, oxygen saturation, etc., can help patients better remember those markers with laser precision.
Doctors will then be empowered to make more educated decisions about patient care. In the past, those who had to monitor such markers would have to write the foods they ate, post-prandial blood sugars, blood pressure, how they felt and more, then keep that information for a week, two weeks, or a month before they next visited their doctors.
Unfortunately, in an app-driven world, patients aren’t going to put pen to paper in this day and age to track information. It would be like telling a 25 year-old to go buy a map at the store for their next road trip when they know full well Google Maps can tell them exactly where they need to go. Most people would rather drive wherever the open road takes them than open a book or ask someone for directions.
AI will change telemedicine by bringing intuitive technology into the mix by tracking variables, giving hints and reminders, and making it easier for patients to access helpful information.
AI has yet to be perfected in the telehealth and telemedicine field. Indeed, we all know it will never be 100% capable of replacing important human interactions. But, with the stresses mentioned above that AI technologies can indeed relieve for professionals and patients, healthcare as a whole is expected to improve in a big way.
The more time a chatbot can free up for a professional, the more time he/she will have to put more effort into the more pressing aspects of their jobs.