Chatbots in Healthcare: Top 6 Use Cases & Examples in 2024

Chatbots in Healthcare: A Detailed Look at the Top Use Cases and Examples in 2024

Chatbots and conversational AI have enormous potential to transform healthcare delivery. As a healthcare leader, you may be wondering about the top use cases for implementing chatbots and how they can benefit your organization specifically.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll explore six high-impact chatbot applications in healthcare, real-world examples, implementation best practices, evaluations of leading solutions, and predictions for the future. Read on to gain valuable insights you can apply to your healthcare chatbot initiatives.

An Introduction to Healthcare Chatbots

First, let‘s quickly define what we mean by "healthcare chatbots" and why they matter:

Chatbots are software programs that use artificial intelligence and natural language processing to have personalized conversations with human users, either by text or voice. In healthcare, chatbots are being applied to automate conversations with patients for numerous uses – we‘ll cover the major ones shortly.

Some of the overall benefits chatbots unlock for healthcare include:

  • 24/7 automated access to health services for patients
  • Reduced administrative workloads for clinicians and staff
  • More efficient appointment scheduling and management
  • Lower costs of care delivery
  • Improved intake, triage and dispostion of patients
  • Enhanced access for underserved populations
  • Personalized health management and patient engagement

According to research by Accenture, scaling healthcare chatbots could result in over $3 billion in annual cost savings for the US healthcare system alone by 2023. Another study found that 70% of healthcare organizations are currently piloting or planning to pilot chatbots.

With abundant benefits and rapid innovation in conversational AI, adoption is accelerating quickly. Let‘s explore some of the most valuable applications.

Top 6 Healthcare Chatbot Use Cases and Examples

  1. Patient Intake and Triage

One of the most useful applications of chatbots is automating patient intake, symptom checking, and triage 24/7. These bots can:

  • Ask a series of questions to understand symptoms and history
  • Use algorithms to categorize urgent vs. non-urgent cases
  • Direct patients to emergency care if needed
  • Recommend appropriate next steps like scheduling an appointment
  • Suggest home treatments for minor issues

This allows patients to get quick assessments anytime while reserving clinician capacity for the most urgent cases.

For example, the Babylon chatbot screens patients through an AI-driven conversational interface. One study found it can identify the correct diagnosis earlier than doctors in more than 75% of cases.

Another startup called Infermedica offers an AI engine focused specifically on symptom analysis for triage. It can integrate into any patient-facing platform to automatically evaluate symptoms and intake information.

Implementing smart symptom checker chatbots like these can benefit healthcare organizations by:

  • Reducing unnecessary urgent care/ER visits by 20-30%
  • Increasing appointment show rates by 25%
  • Cutting administrative triage labor costs by 50%
  1. Health Answers and Information Lookup

Beyond triage, chatbots serve as an always-available resource for patients to get answers to health questions.

These medical information chatbots can address topics like:

  • Medication uses and side effects
  • Interpreting lab results and reports
  • Follow-up care instructions after a procedure
  • General information about health conditions
  • Preventive health and wellness topics
  • Available healthcare resources

Powered by an extensive knowledge base, the chatbot provides conversational search for immediate health answers. For example, the startup Ada offers a medical chatbot focused specifically on health information lookup. It can address about 80% of common patient questions with 97% accuracy according to studies.

The benefits of deploying a medical answers chatbot include:

  • Reducing phone call volume to nurses/assistants by 50%
  • Increasing patient satisfaction and engagement
  • Freeing staff to focus on critical, non-repetitive tasks
  • 24/7 access to personalized health information for patients
  1. Care Plan Support and Patient Monitoring

For patients managing chronic illnesses or complex treatment regimens, chatbots play an important role in providing personalized support, reminders, and monitoring between visits. Healthcare chatbots can:

  • Send medication and appointment reminders
  • Check in daily and ask about treatment side effects
  • Monitor symptoms and vitals reported by the patient
  • Provide interactive education and motivational tips
  • Evaluate treatment adherence and progress
  • Alert care teams about any concerning changes

For instance, the startup Sense.ly provides a chatbot specifically focused on managing care plans for chronic disease patients. These bots essentially act as always-available, automated health coaches. Studies show they can improve outcomes by 15-20% for chronic disease management programs.

  1. Streamlined Appointment Management

Another major use case for chatbots is optimizing appointment scheduling and management. Healthcare organizations field millions of calls from patients about:

  • Booking new appointments
  • Rescheduling existing appointments
  • Canceling appointments
  • Confirming appointment details

By automating these repetitive administrative tasks, chatbots deliver major benefits:

  • Reduce dropped calls for appointments by 80%
  • Cut appointment management labor costs by 40%
  • Allow 24/7 self-service appointment changes
  • Improve appointment show rates by 30%

For example, leading health systems like Cleveland Clinic use chatbot solutions from Luma Health to fully automate appointment scheduling conversations. Patients can interact on their own time rather than waiting on hold.

  1. Virtual Assistance for Mental Healthcare

Mental health support represents a growing use case for chatbots. Conversational AI platforms like Woebot and Wysa provide chatbots that can:

  • Deliver structured therapy content and exercises
  • Enable on-demand coping skills support
  • Provide relaxation and mindfulness techniques
  • Maintain anonymous user conversations
  • Identify warning signs and suicidal ideation

These mental health chatbots increase access to support and show promising results comparable to human-led treatment based on early studies. They can deliver therapies like CBT at scale while preserving privacy.

  1. Patient Education and Behavior Change

Chatbots also play a pivotal role in patient education and promoting positive behavior change. For example, chatbots can provide:

  • Personalized tips and reminders about diet, exercise, sleep hygiene based on the individual‘s needs and preferences
  • Brief daily education content sent to users covering prevention, treatment adherence, lifestyle factors and more
  • Motivational coaching to help patients maintain healthy habits and self-care skills
  • Follow-ups to reinforce learning and allow patients to ask questions

Research indicates chatbots improve retention of health education content by over 40% compared to traditional written materials. They also increase patient confidence and self-efficacy levels significantly.

Top Conversational AI Platforms for Healthcare

If you‘re considering implementing a healthcare chatbot, it‘s wise to focus your search on industry-specific solutions rather than general-purpose chatbots.

Here are eight leading conversational AI platforms that provide robust tools tailored to healthcare needs:

  • Babylon – End-to-end platform including symptom checking and triage chatbots
  • Sensely – Specializes in conversational search for health information
  • Ada – AI symptom checker and health assessment chatbot
  • Infermedica – AI engine for patient triage and preliminary diagnosis
  • Buoy – Algorithmic diagnostic chatbot app for consumers
  • Gyant – Chatbots to automate patient interviews and history taking
  • Orbita – Framework for building HIPAA-compliant virtual assistants
  • Khealth – Primary care platform integrating automated triage

These healthcare-focused solutions allow developing robust chatbots faster and reduce compliance and integration risks. Most offer seamless integration with EHR/EMR systems as well. Vendors like Orbita also ensure appropriate data security protections are in place to safeguard PHI.

Best Practices for Healthcare Chatbot Implementation

When launching a healthcare chatbot initiative, following proven best practices will maximize your chances of success:

  • Clearly define the use case(s) and how the chatbot will create specific value in your organization
  • Get buy-in from both leadership and frontline staff early and co-design the solution
  • Focus on change management as much as technology – prepare staff for how work will change
  • Start with a limited pilot, gather feedback, then scale iteratively
  • Integrate appropriate human hand-off points for escalated conversations
  • Monitor chatbot performance closely including metrics like containment rate, accuracy, and user satisfaction
  • Continuously provide new training data to enhance automation rates
  • Set realistic expectations on chatbot capabilities to avoid frustrations
  • Market the availability of the chatbot through multiple channels to drive adoption

The Future Outlook for Chatbots in Healthcare

While adoption has accelerated recently, chatbots remain early in their overall healthcare journey. Here are a few ways chatbots are likely to keep evolving in healthcare:

  • From niche tools to consolidated platforms managing all patient health needs
  • From fragmented point solutions to organization-wide integrations
  • From text-only interfaces to multimodal with voice, image, video and more
  • From reactive tools to AI that proactively reaches out to patients
  • From basic automated workflows to credited participants on care teams
  • From pilots to system-wide chatbot implementation

We can expect chatbots will one day provide a truly personalized, comprehensive healthcare companion for every patient. This "AI-powered health assistant" will integrate seamlessly with each care team to fully support the patient‘s physical, mental, social and financial health needs.

While chatbots still have some limitations currently, their trajectory is clear towards transforming both patient experiences and clinician workflows in healthcare. Organizations that strategically adopt conversational AI will gain an advantage in costs, quality of care and patient satisfaction over competitors still relying solely on manual processes.

The Time is Now for Healthcare Chatbots

In closing, chatbots represent one of the most significant opportunities to drive greater efficiency, accessibility and engagement in healthcare. Early adopters are already achieving strong results across use cases like:

  • Automating triage and intake
  • Streamlining administrative processes
  • Providing on-demand health information
  • Optimizing chronic disease management
  • Expanding mental health support
  • Boosting patient education and behavior change

As conversational AI continues advancing, measurable benefits like these will accelerate chatbot adoption exponentially. By thoughtfully implementing chatbots aligned to organizational goals, healthcare providers can elevate patient experiences and clinical outcomes to new heights. The transformative power of AI to augment clinicians and improve healthcare access is here – the time to implement chatbots is now.

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