Who would have thought in decades past that in 2024 we would be able to have a doctor’s appointment without leaving the comfort of home? Or that a physician could access patient imaging from a clinician in a state 2,000 miles away? 

Technology has changed the healthcare industry, and the newest player in the game is voice-enabled artificial intelligence. Typically referred to as conversational AI, it consists of voice and text applications that automate human information gathering and communications

More than 80 percent of healthcare organizations have already implemented an AI strategy. Why the popularity? In addition to promoting operational and administrative efficiency, it can boost both patient and staff satisfaction and improve outcomes. 

What is Conversational AI for Healthcare Providers? 

Conversational AI combines advanced automation, AI and natural language processing (NLP) to enable comprehension of and response to human language. The technology is utilized by healthcare providers to streamline numerous tasks, including patient scheduling, post-discharge support, medication management, collections and more. 

Unlike most rules-based chatbots, which only offer very specific, scripted answers to a predetermined set of questions, voice-enabled conversational AI is able to provide natural, human-like interactions with patients. The more comprehensive technology uses natural language processing (NLP) to comprehend the context and deliver more adaptable responses.

Applications of Conversational AI for Healthcare Providers 

Voice-enabled conversational AI can be used as a tool to help patients manage chronic conditions and increase rates of preventative screening. Some healthcare providers employ it to conduct post-discharge follow-up, retrieve basic billing information and offer guidance on patient self-care. Common uses of conversational AI in healthcare consist of: 

Answering Common Patient Questions 

Along with answering frequently asked questions about practice hours and location and symptoms, treatments, medications and other non-urgent issues, conversational AI empowers patients with immediate access to accessible, reliable and accurate information at any time of day — without the need for a phone call or in-office visit. That’s the convenience so many patients want from their healthcare provider. 

Automating Appointment Scheduling 

No-shows are an unavoidable — and costly — part of the healthcare industry. They lead to longer wait times for other patients, lower satisfaction, wasted resources and an overall decrease in the quality of care.   

There are ways to mitigate them, though. Through voice-enabled conversational AI, patients can conveniently schedule or reschedule an appointment with their preferred physician or locate providers based on detailed criteria. These AI solutions access up-to-date physician schedules and other real-time data, so the information given to patients is always accurate. No more overbooking or unnecessary scheduling conflicts. 

Disseminating Patient Education 

When healthcare providers effectively educate patients, those individuals better understand their health conditions and choices and are actively engaged in their care. Conversational AI enables healthcare providers to provide current, contextual and reliable educational communication at scale, delivering customized messages to patients based on their unique conditions and health literacy level. 

Voice-enabled conversational AI is increasingly being adopted by healthcare providers to offer guidance on preventive care and appointment or procedure preparation. It is a scalable and cost-efficient method for increasing understanding and combating misinformation through timely, relevant and accurate patient education. 

Increasing Medication Adherence 

Medication adherence is essential to positive health outcomes, especially for patients with chronic conditions. Conversely, a lack of it is associated with higher rates of hospital admissions, suboptimal health outcomes and increased morbidity and is estimated to be linked to 125,000 deaths annually. 

By automating communication, healthcare providers can deliver personalized outreach to remind patients to take their medication, extend information on side effects and underscore the impact of non-compliance. Voice-enabled conversational AI, specifically, can be utilized to remind patients to take their medicine, alert them when a refill is needed or recommend over-the-counter (OTC) medications based on their profile, thereby reducing medication non-adherence and improving health outcomes.  

Providing Multilingual Support 

There are between 350 and 430 languages spoken in the United States. Not all healthcare providers can speak all of them, let alone conduct clear back-and-forth dialogue with every patient in their native language. Voice-enabled conversational AI can help to overcome these language barriers through clear and accessible multilingual support, thus increasing access to care for a diverse patient population.  

Benefits of Conversational AI for Healthcare Providers 

One of the most touted advantages of voice-enabled conversational AI is the 24/7 availability it provides to patients. Patients are able to immediately access information about their practice, including often confusing but relevant steps for navigating the healthcare system – even when their physician’s office is closed. That’s one way to increase patient satisfaction! 

Other perks voice-enabled conversational AI offers to healthcare providers include: 

Enhanced Patient Engagement 

When providers invest in automated outreach to communicate with patients, these individuals are more likely to engage and respond between appointments and make informed healthcare decisions. Research shows effective patient engagement can have a direct impact on treatment outcomes, patient satisfaction and provider productivity. 

Conversational AI, which should be part of an overall patient engagement strategy, provides a human-like interaction for patients while giving them information specific to their healthcare. This personalized communication engages patients by being able to provide meaningful guidance and information and ensures that a broader patient demographic receives the care they need. 

Reduced Administrative Burden 

Physicians and other healthcare provider staff are responsible for multiple administrative tasks. Most doctors spend an average of 13.5 hours per week on tasks other than direct patient care. 

Voice-enabled conversational AI helps to reduce their administrative burden by handling common patient interactions, automating error-prone operational tasks, improving resource allocation and reducing pesky paperwork. Physicians and their staff can reduce administrative backlogs and focus more on actions that require human expertise. 

Cost Savings 

According to Accenture, key clinical health AI applications have the potential to create $150 billion in annual savings for the U.S. healthcare economy by 2026. Most of these savings come from automating routine tasks, reducing the need for manual phone calls and non-critical human interactions and sharing information with patients at a low cost and scale. 

Voice-enabled conversational AI can even be implemented by healthcare providers to disseminate information to remind patients about payments due, decreasing the cost of a manual collection process and producing a more efficient revenue cycle. 

Easy Data Analysis for Continuous Improvement 

Most conversational AI tools have the capability to quickly and accurately analyze vast amounts of data. This data can be utilized to identify areas for improvement, ascertain health trends and patterns and extract and highlight key information from patient interactions. 

Using this information along with other patient feedback, healthcare providers can implement actionable solutions to improve their services. For example, data they collect showing appointment scheduling trends enables them to more effectively manage their staffing resources. 

Try Providertech’s voice-enabled conversational AI platform for yourself. Call 540-516-3602 to start your interactive demo with ABC Labs, where the AI agent will help you reschedule an appointment or answer questions about what to bring to the appointment, whether or not you should eat prior to it or even where you should park.