Improving the Patient Experience with Customer Service Chatbots
July 14, 2022
The pandemic, as well as the resulting economic recession, have negatively affected many people’s mental health and created new barriers for people already suffering from mental illness and substance-use disorders.
A recent report highlighted that during the pandemic, about 4 in 10 adults in the United States have reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, up from one in 10 adults in 2019. Many adults are also reporting specific negative impacts on their well-being, such as difficulty sleeping (36%), eating (32%), increased alcohol consumption or substance use (12%) and worsening chronic conditions (12%) due to worry and stress.
As the pandemic continued to drag on, social-distancing measures exposed many people to isolation and job loss. The pandemic took its toll in other unforeseen ways as elevated levels of loneliness and economic repercussions have led many people to seek help with behavioral health providers for mental health issues and substance use. Both the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Kaiser Family Foundation, a leader in health-policy analysis, have documented the pandemic’s negative impact on both mental health and increased addiction. The statistics are astounding.
Many healthcare providers who were already experiencing staff shortages, found themselves overwhelmed and unprepared to quickly pivot and provide virtual healthcare and telehealth services. The resulting talent deficit of healthcare professionals is predicted to spiral further unfortunately, as it’s projected that the United States will have a dire shortage of 250,000 behavioral health providers by 2025. Additionally, more than 50% of counties in the United States currently do not have any psychiatrists to help alleviate the ongoing mental-health crisis.
Benefits of Using Customer Service Chatbots and How to Improve Patient Experience
Botco.ai’s aim is to decrease the amount of time it takes for a patient to reach a valuable engagement with a healthcare provider. With a telehealth operations platform, behavioral health and addiction organizations can scale virtual-care operations with tools that increase efficiency, engage patients in new ways and improve the patient journey. And with Botco.ai’s on-demand, AI-driven chatbot platform that enables intelligent conversations between people and providers, patient inquiries can be addressed 24/7, whether it’s on your website (web or mobile) or on Facebook Messenger.
Botco.ai’s customer service chatbots can help save hours of tedious administrative work. In a poll conducted by Botco.ai, respondents were asked how much time they normally spent on administrative work, 21% said one in five hours, 43% said one in four hours, and 36% said one in three hours. Adding a bit more insight, about two-thirds of the respondents still use phone, fax, voicemail, clipboards and manual entry for onboarding patients and entering referrals. It’s clearly not the best use of such a scarce resource when healthcare professionals are spending at least one workday each week filing paperwork, handling referrals, following up with insurance providers and other administrative tasks or manual processes.
Leveraging technology can also help healthcare providers to build out new lines of business. One particular Botco.ai client—a drug and alcohol treatment center—noticed they were getting a lot of inquiries on co-occurring disorders, especially around eating disorders, in certain markets and geographies. Realizing they were starting to see a trend, the treatment center was able to model out the demand for eating-disorder concerns, and eventually introduced a new line of service in some of its locations to better serve those specific communities.
So what’s in store regarding the delivery of healthcare? Clyde agreed that ensuring in-person care is available when appropriate, as well as making virtual care an option for patients, will be a big focus of many organizations across the United States in the coming months and years. Additionally, the automation of routine tasks, such as collecting patient data, will be crucial to freeing up more time for medical professionals to provide the care patients need. And as clinics increasingly adopt digital interactions and technology, focusing on system interoperability will be crucial for organizations and vendors alike.
Healthcare organizations must restructure so they are meeting the patient where they want to receive care rather than creating a model that is most convenient for those providing the care, particularly in the behavioral health space. Why? People who are accessing behavioral, addiction or mental health care typically need help immediately. Lengthy wait times can also impact the clinical outcome, in addition to the overall patient experience. And sometimes, that can mean life or death. For Botco.ai, that means working on creating sentiment scores in real-time so behavioral healthcare providers can identify early cues that something might be more serious and may need to be escalated.
Telehealth and conversational automation have certainly revolutionized the healthcare industry, allowing patients to engage with healthcare providers while staying within their comfort zone. Patients seeking care expect a seamless digital experience from initial contact to after-care management. And with the continued impacts and implications of the pandemic and the resource constraints being felt across the healthcare industry, digital transformation is imperative to not only staying relevant, but to shape and improve the patient journey—especially for behavioral health and addiction services.
Visit here to watch Botco.ai’s webinar replay of “Improving the Patient Experience with Digital Interactions.”