Over the past few years, the implementation of chatbots has risen dramatically across almost all sectors, and when the pandemic stretched the NHS to its limits last year this clever tech stepped up to support staff and relieve some of the workload. From appointment management to emergency support, there are a range of uses for virtual assistants in healthcare which can help streamline processes and ease administrative burdens.
To help you understand what chatbots can actually do, we have put together a handy checklist of different areas where they help transform NHS communications:
Empower patients to manage their own care from anywhere with the ability to instantly rebook for a time that suits them directly from their smartphone or another device, without needing to wait in lengthy phone queues. In return, missed appointments are significantly reduced and staff are freed of repetitive admin work, including manually rebooking slots.
Chatbots put an end to rampant misinformation, especially during a crisis, with responses curated from verified sources supporting patients to self-serve. They can also de-escalate complaints and redirect with links to online FFT or complaints surveys giving the opportunity to give feedback anytime.
Patient Initiated Follow Ups
Chatbots enable patients wishing to request a follow up appointment or get support to be asked set questions related to their condition, and instantly feeds this information back to the Trust for review. Trusts can then prioritise patients so they can be seen based on need, rather than having unnecessary routine appointments booked in advance, whilst freeing up capacity for new and waiting list patients.
Provide patients with trustworthy answers in real time or redirect the query to a source that can help further, while you get valuable insights into patient pain points and common queries then quickly adapt and tailor your communications, therefore removing the need for any inbound contact on these matters in the future.
Waiting List Management
At a time of never-ending waiting lists, bots can efficiently triage patients by asking clinic-specific questions, and instantly return responses to the hospital so they can be directed onto the right pathway. Automating this process makes validation and management quicker, therefore helping to tackle the growing backlog caused by the pandemic.
A member of staff can also only speak to one person at a time, whereas this scalable mechanics can check symptoms for an infinite number of people simultaneously, with endless patience and the same consistent messaging.
One of our conversational FAQ bots was specifically designed to provide patients at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust with instant answers to hospital visitor questions and routine queries, improving patient experience and reducing unnecessary inbound calls. Following a go live in March 2021, within a couple of weeks it saved the equivalent of 1,095 minutes of staff time on inbound calls.
Public demand for instant access to support was also demonstrated recently at London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust, when 23% of patients accessing their Covid FAQ chatbot did so out of normal operating hours, getting instant answers where they would usually have had a long wait for a reply.
At the first peak of the pandemic, when the Trust was already incredibly low on resources, this bot learnt the replies to over 200 of the most frequently asked Covid-19 health related questions and responded to over 1400 patients. This allowed those valuable hours of staff time to be refocused on urgent patient care.
To find out more about how Healthcare Communications can help ease the burden on your staff by implementing chatbot technology at your organisation, call us on 0845 9000 890 or email email@example.com.