The Pros and Cons of Healthcare Chatbots

Healthcare Chatbots: Benefits, Use Cases, and Top Tools

benefits of chatbots in healthcare

Chatbots can facilitate interactions with those who are reluctant to seek mental health advice due to stigmatization [5] and allow more conversational flexibility [16]. Chatbots are now equipped with advanced conversational AI capabilities to understand complex questions, engage in natural dialogue, and build rapport with users. They leverage data analytics to provide personalized health insights and recommendations customized to individual needs and preferences. This allows them to take on even more complex responsibilities, such as recognizing symptoms and even making diagnoses. Using healthcare chatbots for appointment management is a transformative approach that significantly reduces the incessant ringing of phone lines in medical facilities.

Furthermore, these chatbots play a vital role in addressing public health concerns like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. By offering symptom checkers and reliable information about the virus, they help alleviate anxiety among individuals and ensure appropriate actions are taken based on symptoms exhibited. However, when it comes to embarrassing sexual symptoms, participants were much more willing to consult with a chatbot than for other categories of symptoms. Our research at the Psychology and Communication Technology (PaCT) Lab at Northumbria University explored people’s perceptions of medical chatbots using a nationally representative online sample of 402 UK adults.

Doctors can receive regular automatic updates on the symptoms of their patients’ chronic conditions. Livongo streamlines diabetes management through rapid assessments and unlimited access to testing strips. Cara Care provides personalized care for individuals dealing with chronic gastrointestinal issues. The process of filing insurance inquiries and claims is standardized and takes a lot of time to complete. The solution provides information about insurance coverage, benefits, and claims information, allowing users to track and handle their health insurance-related needs conveniently. Hospitals can use chatbots for follow-up interactions, ensuring adherence to treatment plans and minimizing readmissions.

Event invitations, welcome messages, and birthday congratulations will let people feel valued and important clients of your healthcare facility. Instead of spending hours and comparing controversial recommendations (whose competence level is highly dubious), they can address a chatbot that is specifically honed to answer such queries. The machine will provide various educational content, professional tips, and qualified remedies to let people learn more about their problems and the ways to handle them. A person can characterize their state, after which the machine will suggest a way of treatment or schedule an appointment with a relevant specialist. If the patient has problems describing their condition, the chatbot can ask some prompting or suggestive questions and clarify details.

What are the benefits of healthcare chatbots?

However, this evidence is not sufficient to conclude that chatbots are safe, given the high risk of bias in the 2 studies. Of 1048 citations retrieved, we identified 12 studies examining the effect of using chatbots on 8 outcomes. Weak evidence demonstrated that chatbots were effective in improving depression, distress, stress, and acrophobia. In contrast, according to similar evidence, there was no statistically significant effect of using chatbots on subjective psychological wellbeing. Results were conflicting regarding the effect of chatbots on the severity of anxiety and positive and negative affect. Only two studies assessed the safety of chatbots and concluded that they are safe in mental health, as no adverse events or harms were reported.

Understanding the Role of Chatbots in Virtual Care Delivery – mHealthIntelligence.com

Understanding the Role of Chatbots in Virtual Care Delivery.

Posted: Fri, 03 Nov 2023 07:00:00 GMT [source]

As we’ll read further, a healthcare chatbot might seem like a simple addition, but it can substantially impact and benefit many sectors of your institution. This would save physical resources, manpower, money and effort while accomplishing screening efficiently. The chatbots can make recommendations for care options once the users enter their symptoms. You can set up your chatbot to streamline and facilitate health insurance claims management. It will not only answer all their questions concerning their insurance plan, coverage, and available medical services but also guide people step-by-step through the entire process – from submitting a claim to receiving a disbursement. Enabling the chatbot to send messages other than dry reminders can add a tinge of human touch to your interactions with customers.

Frequently Asked Questions

The most common outcome assessed by the included studies was severity of depression (6/12). The Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) was the most used outcome measure in the included studies (4/12). The follow-up periods were 2 weeks (6/12), 4 weeks (6/12), 6 weeks (1/12), and 12 weeks (1/12).

benefits of chatbots in healthcare

Conversely, closed-source tools are third-party frameworks that provide custom-built models through which you run your data files. With these third-party tools, you have little control over the software design and how your data files are processed; thus, you have little control over the confidential and potentially sensitive patient information your model receives. Any chatbot you develop that aims to give medical advice should deeply consider the regulations that govern it. There are things you can and cannot say, and there are regulations on how you can say things. Navigating yourself through this environment will require legal counsel to guide you as you build this portion of your bot to address these different chatbot use cases in healthcare. The higher the intelligence of a chatbot, the more personal responses one can expect, and therefore, better customer assistance.

Agreement between reviewers was very good, except for the assessment of the risk of bias (which was good). When possible, findings of the included studies were meta-analyzed; thereby, we were able to increase the power of the studies and improve the estimates of the likely size of effect of chatbots on a variety of mental Chat PG health outcomes. Findings regarding the effect of chatbots on positive and negative affect were conflicting. While one study concluded that chatbots improved the positive and negative affect at the 2-week follow-up [29], another study did not find any significant influence of chatbots at the 2-week follow-up [28].

Further, they should undertake more studies in developing countries and recruit large, clinical samples given the lack of such evidence, as found in the current review. The intervention of interest in this review was restricted to chatbots that work within standalone software or via a web browser (but not robotics, serious games, SMS, nor telephones). Accordingly, this review cannot comment on the effectiveness of chatbots that involve human-generated content or those that use alternative modes of delivery. It was necessary to apply those restrictions because these features are not part of ordinary chatbots.

  • By automating routine tasks, AI bots can free up resources to be used in other areas of healthcare.
  • With smart chatbots, not only the patient receives a reply within seconds, but exactly when the information is needed the most.
  • Compared to hiring additional staff members or investing in complex systems, deploying chatbots proves cost-effective in the long run.
  • Healthcare chatbots significantly cut unnecessary spending by allowing patients to perform minor treatments or procedures without visiting the doctor.

This predicament can lead to missed opportunities for early treatment, ultimately impacting overall health and well-being. By facilitating preliminary conversations about embarrassing and stigmatized symptoms, medical chatbots can play a pivotal role in influencing whether or not someone seeks medical guidance. As this review focused on the effectiveness and safety of chatbots, we excluded many studies that assessed the usability and acceptance of chatbots in mental health. Given that usability and acceptance of technology are considered important factors for their successful implementation, the evidence regarding those outcomes should be summarized through systematic reviews. Of the 2 RCTs measuring the safety of chatbots, both concluded that chatbots are safe for use in mental health, as no adverse events or harm were reported when chatbots were used to treat users with depression and acrophobia.

These chatbots offer the convenience of round-the-clock interaction, answering any pertinent questions and advising on specific preparatory actions like fasting protocols or hydration guidelines before the appointment. As computerised chatbots are characterised by a lack of human presence, which is the reverse of traditional face-to-face interactions with HCPs, they may increase distrust in healthcare services. HCPs and patients lack trust in the ability of chatbots, which may lead to concerns about their clinical care risks, accountability and an increase in the clinical workload rather than a reduction. The app helps people with addictions  by sending daily challenges designed around a particular stage of recovery and teaching them how to get rid of drugs and alcohol. The chatbot provides users with evidence-based tips, relying on a massive patient data set, plus, it works really well alongside other treatment models or can be used on its own. GYANT, HealthTap, Babylon Health, and several other medical chatbots use a hybrid chatbot model that provides an interface for patients to speak with real doctors.

Description of Included Studies

By quickly assessing symptoms and medical history, they can prioritize patient cases and guide them to the appropriate level of care. This efficient sorting helps in managing patient flow, especially in busy clinics and hospitals, ensuring that critical cases get timely attention and resources are optimally utilized. Issues of data privacy and the potential for chatbots to generate false information underscore the need for a careful approach when deploying chatbots into healthcare. Early negative experiences with medical chatbots could damage trust, limiting the public’s willingness to engage. Recent findings demonstrate that ChatGPT is already capable of delivering highly relevant and interpretable responses to medical queries. They may also help streamline healthcare services, reducing some of the current pressures on staff.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, WHO employed a WhatsApp chatbot to reach and assist people across all demographics to beat the threat of the virus. The doctors can then use all this information to analyze the patient and make accurate reports. Understanding what emotional intelligence looks like and the steps needed to improve it could light a path to a more emotionally adept world. FNumbers do not add up as some studies used more than one tool to assess a single outcome and several studies have more than one outcome. AFor simplicity, as there were exactly 100 participants in the study, only percentages have been reported, unless otherwise stated.

Their ability to provide instant responses and guidance, especially during non-working hours, is invaluable. In the near future, healthcare chatbots are expected to evolve into sophisticated companions for patients, offering real-time health monitoring and automatic aid during emergencies. Their capability to continuously track health status and promptly respond to critical situations will be a game-changer, especially for patients managing chronic illnesses or those in need of constant care.

Since such tools avoid the need for patients to come in for an appointment just to have their questions answered, they can prevent wastage of time for both patients and healthcare providers while providing useful information in a timely fashion. A total of 30% (30/100) of participants indicated that they had direct personal experience with the use of chatbots for health-related issues. Physicians were also given a list of currently available health care chatbots, to examine their familiarity with some of the interfaces that could be potentially accessed by patients.

  • The authors would like to thank all the participants, project members, supporters, and researchers at Klick Inc for the successful development, implementation, and evaluation of this research.
  • Chatbots offer round-the-clock support and instant responses to queries, enabling patients to receive necessary guidance without enduring lengthy waiting periods.
  • By automating the transfer of data into EMRs (electronic medical records), a hospital will save resources otherwise spent on manual entry.
  • This continuous monitoring allows healthcare providers to detect any deviations from normal values promptly.
  • In order for a healthcare provider to properly safeguard its systems, they have to implement security on all levels of an organization.

Ideally, the difference between pre-intervention and post-intervention data for each group should be used in a meta-analysis [47]. However, we used only post-intervention data in each group for the meta-analysis because studies did not report enough data (eg, change in SD or SE of the mean between the pre-intervention and post-intervention for each group). In this review, it was possible to meta-analyze pre-intervention benefits of chatbots in healthcare and post-intervention data from one-group trials (ie, did not include comparison groups). However, such analysis was not carried out in this review as such trials are very vulnerable to several threats of internal validity, such as maturation threat, instrumentation threat, regression threat, and history threat [41,48]. Forest plot of the 2 studies assessing the effect of using chatbots on the severity of anxiety.

Everyone wants a safe outlet to express their innermost fears and troubles and Woebot provides just that—a mental health ally. It uses natural language processing to engage its users in positive and understanding conversations from anywhere at any time. Patients suffering from mental health issues can seek a haven in healthcare chatbots like Woebot that converse in a cognitive behavioral therapy-trained manner. https://chat.openai.com/ The widespread use of chatbots can transform the relationship between healthcare professionals and customers, and may fail to take the process of diagnostic reasoning into account. This process is inherently uncertain, and the diagnosis may evolve over time as new findings present themselves. The development of more reliable algorithms for healthcare chatbots requires programming experts who require payment.

Chatbot becomes a vital point of communication and information gathering at unforeseeable times like a pandemic as it limits human interaction while still retaining patient engagement. Patients appreciate that using a healthcare chatbot saves time and money, as they don’t have to commute all the way to the doctor’s clinic or the hospital. And if there is a short gap in a conversation, the chatbot cannot pick up the thread where it fell, instead having to start all over again. This may not be possible or agreeable for all users, and may be counterproductive for patients with mental illness. Medical (social) chatbots can interact with patients who are prone to anxiety, depression and loneliness, allowing them to share their emotional issues without fear of being judged, and providing good advice as well as simple company. Chatbots called virtual assistants or virtual humans can handle the initial contact with patients, asking and answering the routine questions that inevitably come up.

The findings indicated that most of the currently available chatbots were not generally used or heard of by physicians. Healthcare chatbots applications make medical advice and information more accessible to wider populations, including those in remote or underserved areas. They help bridge the gap between healthcare providers and patients, ensuring that reliable healthcare guidance is just a chat away. The World Health Organization emphasizes the importance of digital health tools like chatbots in extending healthcare services to hard-to-reach populations, highlighting their role in improving healthcare accessibility globally.

In the healthcare field, in addition to the above-mentioned Woebot, there are numerous chatbots, such as Your.MD, HealthTap, Cancer Chatbot, VitaminBot, Babylon Health, Safedrugbot and Ada Health (Palanica et al. 2019). One example of a task-oriented chatbot is a medical chatbot called Omaolo developed by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), which is an online symptom assessment tool (e-questionnaire) (Atique et al. 2020, p. 2464; THL 2020). The chatbot is available in Finnish, Swedish and English, and it currently administers 17 separate symptom assessments. First, it can perform an assessment of a health problem or symptoms and, second, more general assessments of health and well-being. Third, it can perform an ‘assessment of a sickness or its risks’ and guide ‘the resident to receive treatment in services promoting health and well-being within Omaolo and in social and health services external to’ it (THL 2020, p. 14). In the aftermath of COVID-19, Omaolo was updated to include ‘Coronavirus symptoms checker’, a service that ‘gives guidance regarding exposure to and symptoms of COVID-19’ (Atique et al. 2020, p. 2464; Tiirinki et al. 2020).

These virtual health assistants are revolutionizing patient care by providing 24/7 assistance, significantly enhancing the healthcare experience. When customers interact with businesses or navigate through websites, they want quick responses to queries and an agent to interact with in real time. Inarguably, this is one of the critical factors that influence customer satisfaction and a company’s brand image (including healthcare organizations, naturally).

By leveraging chatbot technology for survey administration, hospitals and clinics can achieve higher response rates compared to traditional methods like paper-based surveys or phone interviews. Patients find it convenient to provide feedback through user-friendly interfaces at their own pace without any external pressure. Data gathered from user interactions may also be used to uncover hidden health patterns, supporting AI applications to enhance our understanding and management of countless medical conditions. The overall risk of bias was high in most included studies mainly due to issues in the measurement of the outcomes, selection of the reported result, and confounding. Future studies should follow recommended guidelines or tools (eg, RoB 2 and ROBINS-I) when conducting and reporting their studies in order to avoid such biases. The influence of using chatbots on psychological distress was examined by 2 studies, conducted in Japan and Australia [35,36].

Current State of Chatbots in Healthcare

Buoy Health was built by a team of doctors and AI developers through the Harvard Innovation Laboratory. Trained on clinical data from more than 18,000 medical articles and journals, Buoy’s chatbot for medical diagnosis provides users with their likely diagnoses and accurate answers to their health questions. Do medical chatbots powered by AI technologies cause significant paradigm shifts in healthcare? As advancements in AI are ever evolving and ameliorating, chatbots will inevitably perform a range of complex activities and become an indispensable part of many industries, mainly, healthcare. You have probably heard of this platform, for it boasts of catering to almost 13 million users as of 2023.

benefits of chatbots in healthcare

Capacity is an AI-powered support automation platform that provides an all-in-one solution for automating support and business processes. It connects your entire tech stack to answer questions, automate repetitive support tasks, and build solutions to any business challenge. As a result of patient self-diagnoses, physicians may have difficulty convincing patients of their potential preliminary misjudgement.

While a chatbot in healthcare can not be considered a 100% trusted and reliable medical consultant, it can at least help patients recognize their symptoms and the urgency of their condition or answer their questions. And the best part is that these actions do not require patients to schedule an appointment or stand in line, waiting for the doctor to respond. As for the doctors, the constant availability of bots means that doctors can better manage their time since the bots will undertake some of their responsibilities and tasks. Patient preferences may vary, but many individuals appreciate the convenience and immediacy offered by healthcare chatbots. However, it is important to maintain a balance between automated assistance and human interaction for more complex medical situations.

Another point to consider is whether your medical AI chatbot will be integrated with existing software systems and applications like EHR, telemedicine platforms, etc. These are the tech measures, policies, and procedures that protect and control access to electronic health data. Furthermore, this rule requires that workforce members only have access to PHI as appropriate for their roles and job functions.

Although still in its early stages, chatbots will not only improve care delivery, but they will also lead to significant healthcare cost savings and improved patient care outcomes in the near future. The healthcare industry incorporates chatbots in its ecosystem to streamline communication between patients and healthcare professionals, prevent unnecessary expenses and offer a smooth, around-the-clock helping station. Once again, answering these and many other questions concerning the backend of your software requires a certain level of expertise. Make sure you have access to professional healthcare chatbot development services and related IT outsourcing experts.

As we dive into the world of healthcare chatbots, we will explore how they are not just fulfilling the demand for immediate, digital healthcare interactions but also significantly contributing to the improvement of the overall healthcare industry. Many health professionals and experts have emphasised that chatbots are not sufficiently mature to be able to technically diagnose patient conditions or replace health professional assessments (Palanica et al. 2019). Although some applications can provide assistance in terms of real-time information on prognosis and treatment effectiveness in some areas of health care, health experts have been concerned about patient safety (McGreevey et al. 2020). A pandemic can accelerate the digitalisation of health care, but not all consequences are necessarily predictable or positive from the perspectives of patients and professionals.

By ensuring that these virtual assistants collect precise patient information and provide reliable guidance based on medical best practices, trust between patients and technology can be established. Engaging patients in their own healthcare journey is crucial for successful treatment outcomes. Chatbots play a vital role in fostering patient engagement by facilitating interactive conversations. Patients can communicate with chatbots to seek information about their conditions, medications, or treatment plans anytime they need it. These interactions promote better understanding and empower individuals to actively participate in managing their health. Moreover, regular check-ins from chatbots remind patients about medication schedules and follow-up appointments, leading to improved treatment adherence.

Wysa AI Coach also employs evidence-based techniques like CBT, DBT, meditation, breathing, yoga, motivational interviewing, and micro-actions to help patients build mental resilience skills. To understand the role and significance of chatbots in healthcare, let’s look at some numbers. According to the report by Zipdo, the global healthcare chatbot market is expected to reach approximately $498.5 million by 2026. In addition, 64% of patients agree to use a chatbot for information on their insurance and 60% of medical professionals would like to use chatbots to save their working time. They can handle a large volume of interactions simultaneously, ensuring that all patients receive timely assistance. This capability is crucial during health crises or peak times when healthcare systems are under immense pressure.

The convenience and accessibility of chatbots have transformed the physician-patient relationship. Chatbots streamline patient data collection by gathering essential information like medical history, current symptoms, and personal health data. For example, chatbots integrated with electronic health records (EHRs) can update patient profiles in real-time, ensuring that healthcare providers have the latest information for diagnosis and treatment. Acting as 24/7 virtual assistants, healthcare chatbots efficiently respond to patient inquiries. This immediate interaction is crucial, especially for answering general health queries or providing information about hospital services. A notable example is an AI chatbot, which offers reliable answers to common health questions, helping patients to make informed decisions about their health and treatment options.

The idea of a digital personal assistant is tempting, but a healthcare chatbot goes a mile beyond that. From patient care to intelligent use of finances, its benefits are wide-ranging and make it a top priority in the Healthcare industry. You can maximize the contribution of healthcare chatbots to your organization’s workflow by entrusting their development to qualified and certified IT specialists with top-notch expertise in the niche. If you want to keep abreast of the current trends in the industry, you should launch your chatbot as soon as possible.

We acknowledge the difficulty in identifying the nature of systemic change and looking at its complex network-like structure in the functioning of health organisations. Nonetheless, we consider it important to raise this point when talking about chatbots and their potential breakthrough in health care. We suggest that new ethico-political approaches are required in professional ethics because chatbots can become entangled with clinical practices in complex ways.

A chatbot further eases the process by allowing patients to know available slots and schedule or delete meetings at a glance. If you wish to know anything about a particular disease, a healthcare chatbot can gather correct information from public sources and instantly help you. If the condition is not too severe, a chatbot can help by asking a few simple questions and comparing the answers with the patient’s medical history. The chatbot called Aiden is designed to impart CPR and First Aid knowledge using easily digestible, concise text messages.

benefits of chatbots in healthcare

This increased efficiency can result in better patient outcomes and a higher quality of care. When using chatbots in healthcare, it is essential to ensure that patients understand how their data will be used and are allowed to opt out if they choose. Healthcare providers must ensure that privacy laws and ethical standards handle patient data. AI chatbots are instrumental in guiding patients through the preparatory steps required for diagnostic appointments or tests. They can disseminate automated messages, instructional videos, images, and preparatory advice to ensure patients are well-prepared for their upcoming appointments.

Establishing secure, regulation-compliant communication channels is vital in alleviating privacy apprehensions and ensuring trust in AI-assisted healthcare services. There are three primary use cases for the utilization of chatbot technology in healthcare – informative, conversational, and prescriptive. These chatbots vary in their conversational style, the depth of communication, and the type of solutions they provide.

This study aimed to investigate the perceptions of physicians regarding the use of health care chatbots, including their benefits, challenges, and risks to patients. Chatbots can streamline the process of connecting patients with telehealth professionals by scheduling calls or setting up video or voice consultations. They are adept at recognizing the limits of their assistance, enabling a seamless handoff to a human healthcare professional or representative when necessary, thus ensuring a smooth and satisfactory patient experience.

The healthcare chatbot tackles this issue by closely monitoring the cancellation of appointments and reports it to the hospital staff immediately. A chatbot can offer a safe space to patients and interact in a positive, unbiased language in mental health cases. Mental health chatbots like Woebot, Wysa, and Youper are trained in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which helps to treat problems by transforming the way patients think and behave. Such self-diagnosis may become such a routine affair as to hinder the patient from accessing medical care when it is truly necessary, or believing medical professionals when it becomes clear that the self-diagnosis was inaccurate.

Since healthcare chatbots can be on duty tirelessly both day and night, they are an invaluable addition to the care of the patient. Together with other high-tech advancements, chatbots have become a pivotal component of the contemporary digitalization drive dominating the healthcare industry. You can foun additiona information about ai customer service and artificial intelligence and NLP. These AI-powered tools rely on cutting-edge technologies to ease the burden on medical organizations’ customer support teams and increase the level of services they provide to patients.

For tasks like appointment scheduling or medication refills, the chatbot may directly integrate with relevant systems to complete the action. Chatbots must be designed with the user in mind, providing patients a seamless and intuitive experience. Healthcare providers can overcome this challenge by working with experienced UX designers and testing chatbots with diverse patients to ensure that they meet their needs and expectations.

Therefore, new solutions are needed to compensate for the deficiency of resources and promote patient self-care [4]. Distance can impede the reach of traditional mental health services to populations in remote areas in both high-income and low-income countries. Technology-based treatment, such as mobile apps, can overcome most of these barriers and engage hard-to-reach populations [11]. A World Health Organization survey of 15,000 apps revealed that 29% focus on mental health diagnosis or support [10].

When chatbots are developed by private healthcare companies, they usually follow the market logic, such as profit maximisation, or at the very least, this dimension is dominant. Through the rapid deployment of chatbots, the tech industry may gain a new kind of dominance in health care. AI technologies, especially ML, have increasingly been occupying other industries; thus, these technologies are arguably naturally adapted to the healthcare sector. In most cases, it seems that chatbots have had a positive effect in precisely the same tasks performed in other industries (e.g. customer service). Through chatbots (and their technical functions), we can have only a very limited view of medical knowledge. The ‘rigid’ and formal systems of chatbots, even with the ML bend, are locked in certain a priori models of calculation.

These conditions frequently trigger public misconceptions, discriminatory attitudes, and feelings of societal stigmatization. Participants reported that while consultations with doctors were perceived as more accurate, reassuring, trustworthy, and useful, chatbot consultations were considered easier and more convenient. First, the titles and abstracts of all retrieved studies were screened independently by two reviewers (AA, MA).

In 5 studies, there was moderate risk of bias in the selection of the reported results (Figure 3); this is because there were insufficient details about the analyses used in the study. While the overall risk of bias was rated as critical in 1 study, it was judged as moderate and serious in 3 and 2 studies, respectively. Multimedia Appendix 8 shows the reviewers’ judgments about each “risk of bias” domain for each included quasiexperiment.

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