Print Posted By Odoro on 05/16/2019

Using Chatbots to Transform the Patient Access Experience

Using Chatbots to Transform the Patient Access Experience

The easier, quicker and more convenient the route is for patients to communicate with their health provider, the better the patient experience. Chatbots provide an affordable new tool for health systems to better meet these needs.

Currently, the patient experience is a critical matter for health systems. More than half of healthcare executives surveyed (53%) labeled patient experience as a top challenge they plan to address over the next three years. In fact, patient experience outranked cybersecurity (46%), finding qualified staff (46%), and compliance (42%) as executives’ primary challenges!

Chatbots are artificial intelligence (AI) powered health agents that simulate conversation with human users. They enable health systems to engage with patients 24/7, using different languages, and most importantly, at very low cost.

Patients seek a seamless digital patient access experience

Today, 93% of patients seek digital tools to communicate with their healthcare provider, according to Black Book market research report in 2018.  A further 97% demand online scheduling and a whopping 90% said they may abandon their provider if they have no digital access!   

Clearly, patients are seeking digital solutions that will improve the patient access experience – whether that is before, during or after the visit.  The challenge health systems face is providing a solution that allows such engagement while complying with their complex patient access workflows and business rules.

Integrating a chatbot into a health systems patient access strategy could drastically help achieve this goal and enhance operational efficiency. Health systems now have an additional tool that can automate the online experience to account for these workflow complexities. From the task of finding healthcare providers to consult with for specific conditions, to scheduling patient appointments and managing the booking process.

Yet, we must let the patient decide

Healthcare consumerism is rapidly becoming a top imperative for health systems and their marketing teams. It is a movement that advocates patients’ involvement in their own healthcare decisions. A report by Frost & Sullivan’s, Transforming Healthcare Through Excellence in Patient Experience, 2018, shows that consumers are shifting to manage their business interactions in a more automated and self-help manner.   

We at Odoro believe the use of chatbots will support this changing landscape whilst putting the patient in the decision-making chair.  So what do we mean?

One size does not fit all!  Chatbots should be approached as an additional communication tool that works alongside other multichannel self-scheduling options to deliver a patient-centric experience.   

Our approach at Odoro is to integrate the chatbot as another smart communication tool within our digital patient access platform that enables patients to choose the communication channel which best fits their lifestyle.

Combined with our online and mobile self-scheduling solution, call center access software and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology, chatbots provide an alternative way for patients to choose how they wish to engage with their provider.  For example, our IVR automated scheduling solution fits the needs of many elderly and less tech savvy patients who like to call clinics to schedule appointments. This group of consumers may not enjoy the chatbot.

Customizing the chatbots patient access workflow

Odoro’s chatbot can help deliver on the promise to transform the patient access experience.

Our chatbot improves operational efficiency by automating the task of finding relevant providers and managing the appointment booking process. It is embedded within healthcare provider’s websites, or sent by text message to patients for instant use.

We work with each client to develop a truly customized predefined chat workflow. By applying our matching algorithm and smart data management platform, Schedlogic, our customized chat workflows take into account patient history, provider expertise and preferences, and business rules such as insurance restrictions, reimbursement policies and scheduling preferences, etc.   

This means patients can now use an intuitive chatbot, whenever or wherever they need, to query for organization information and schedule, cancel or reschedule appointments quickly and easily that matches their complex needs – all directly from the chatbot!

For the patient access team, our chatbot automates critical tasks to reduce the workload, as well as educate and direct patients to relevant services for improved efficiency and a better patient experience.

The chatbot is here to stay.  The challenge faced by health systems is how to harness its potential to drive the best patient access experience.