14 chatbot use cases in healthcare for patients and HCPs

Published on 12 June 2024 Read 25 min

Chatbots have recently emerged as a revolutionary tool that is transforming industries and healthcare is no exception. Powered by artificial intelligence, chatbots are reshaping the way patients access information, interact with healthcare providers, and manage their well-being. More than just lines of code, these digital companions are the virtual health partners of the 21st century, providing a range of invaluable services to those in need.

But what exactly is a chatbot, and how does it work in the realm of healthcare? In the simplest terms, a chatbot is a computer program designed to engage in conversation with users, simulating human interaction. In healthcare, most chatbot solutions are based on the power of data, algorithms, and natural language processing (NLP) to provide a wide range of functions and services to patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals.

In this article, Alcimed explores the diverse use cases of chatbots in healthcare. Through a wide range of roles, including treatment reminders, symptom tracking, education, and psychological support, all aimed at improving patient care, we will see how they support patients, provide essential support, and contribute to better healthcare outcomes.

Use case n°1: treatment adherence enhancement through treatment reminders and medication management

In the complex world of healthcare, adhering to treatment plans and medication schedules is pivotal for effective care. Chatbots are instrumental in improving treatment adherence and helping patients follow their prescribed regimens diligently. By offering timely reminders and dosage instructions, chatbots ensure that patients remain consistent in their treatment, which contributes significantly to improved health outcomes.

For example, the chatbot “Florence”, available on Facebook Messenger, will send patients messages every time they must take their medication, answering this specific patient’s and HCP’s need.

Use case n°2: real-time monitoring through symptom tracking

For patients, monitoring their health and tracking symptoms is no longer a daunting task, thanks to healthcare chatbots. These digital companions empower individuals to monitor their well-being consistently. They offer real-time assessments of symptoms and guide the next steps. The ability to monitor symptoms continuously enables early detection, timely intervention, and provide physicians information to adjust patients’ treatment, ultimately enhancing patient health.

Again, the chatbot “Florence”, available on Facebook Messenger, tracks its user’s health, acting as a “personal nurse”.

Use case n°3: patients and caregivers’ empowerment through knowledge sharing and education

Education plays a pivotal role in healthcare, enabling patients and caregivers to be engaged in their care pathway and to become actors of their disease management. Healthcare chatbots, such as “Vik by Wefight”, serve as medical assistant sharing medical information. They offer comprehensive answers based on scientific knowledge about various medical conditions, treatments, and preventive measures. By providing access to this wealth of information, chatbots empower patients and caregivers to make informed decisions that positively impact their health and well-being.

Use case n°4: psychological assistance by offering a safe and non-judgmental space

Mental health support is of highly important in healthcare, impacting patient’s quality of life and recovery. Chatbots are at the forefront of providing psychological assistance. Chatbots like “Woebot” are programmed to offer emotional support to patients dealing with stress, anxiety, or depression. These digital companions offer a safe and non-judgmental space for individuals to express their emotions and receive guidance, thereby providing critical emotional support 24/7.

Use case n°5: public awareness by disseminating vital information

In times of public health crises, when large awareness campaigns are conducted and vital healthcare information needs to be shared largely and easily, chatbots step up as efficient messengers. They play a vital role in ensuring that the right information reaches the public. Whether for epidemic updates, vaccination information, or general health advice, chatbots can bridge the gap between healthcare experts and the public, contributing to informed and aware communities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when guidelines changed regularly depending on variants and geographies, Clevy launched CovidBot to answer instantaneously the official public health recommendations.

Use case n°6: streamlining of healthcare appointments with appointment scheduling (or agenda function)

Scheduling and remembering healthcare appointments is not always a given to patients, out of carelessness or cognitive conditions. Chatbots could simplify the process, providing patients with the convenience of booking appointments at their preferred times through a conversation with the platform and being reminded of it automatically. Hospitals and healthcare providers would utilize chatbots to allow patients to check appointment availability, select suitable time slots, receive confirmations and reminders, resulting in efficient appointment scheduling and higher attendance rate to doctors’ visits. This idea was pursued by the British startup Babylon Health, going even further by offering live video consultation.

Learn more about how our team can support you in your projects related to healthcare chatbots >

Use case n°7: remote health monitoring thanks to telemonitoring

Remote healthcare monitoring has emerged as a significant advancement in patient care, with chatbots leading the way. They can allow an automatic long-distance and regular follow-up between patients and HCPS, identifying triggers or at-risk situations and alert physicians if a consultation or hospital visit is necessary. This use case shows chatbots’ impact on patient pathways, smoothing the transition to homecare , improving patients’ quality of life by limiting unnecessary visits, and easing their mind keeping them connected to healthcare providers. This is especially relevant in a hospital context where ambulatory is encouraged. The French start-up Calmedica and its solution Memoquest are proving the relevance of such a use case.

Use case n°8: patients’ empowerment thanks to HealthRecord access

Accessing electronic health records has become more straightforward with chatbots. Patients can now review their test results, treatment histories, and medical reports easily. Access to health records empowers patients with the information they need to make informed decisions about their healthcare journey, while allowing healthcare professionals to understand the patient’s profile more swiftly and accurately.

Use case n°9: wellness promotion with lifestyle and nutrition advice

Chatbots play a significant role in promoting a healthy lifestyle. They guide diet, exercise, weight management, and stress reduction. This advice helps patients make choices that support their overall well-being and prevent health issues. Chatbots can also support patients with wellness support specific to their conditions, supporting patients with the potential diet or physical exercise difficulties they encounter, during chemotherapy for example.

Use case n°10: pre- and post-operation support (including rehabilitation)

Surgical procedures can be overwhelming, and chatbots can provide support before and after surgery. They guide patients through pre-operative instructions and post-operative recovery, even assisting with home-based rehabilitation. These digital companions ensure a smooth and successful surgical journey. The application OneRemission aims to provide a comprehensive list of exercises, and post-cancer practices, curated by Integrative Medicine experts, so that they don’t need to constantly rely on a doctor.

Use case n°11: inclusive healthcare information thanks to language and accessibility support

Healthcare information should be accessible to all, regardless of language or accessibility needs. Chatbots with multilingual support and accessibility features ensure that healthcare information is readily available to all patients, fostering inclusivity in healthcare.

Use case n°12: care quality improvement thanks to health survey and patient data collection

Patient feedback and data collection are invaluable for shaping healthcare services. Chatbots play a crucial role in collecting patient feedback and data, contributing to research and quality improvement initiatives, and ultimately enhancing the quality of care provided to patients.

Use case n°13: initial triage through symptom assessment

Functioning as an initial triage tool, chatbots utilize advanced algorithms and access extensive medical databases to conduct thorough symptom assessments. This systematic approach allows them to generate potential diagnoses or recommend further evaluation when deemed necessary. Through the integration of data analytics and medical knowledge, these chatbots contribute to a precise and well-informed initial triage process, facilitating timely and suitable interventions for patients, as well as reassuring patients regarding their conditions and symptoms.

Use case n°14: guiding patients within the healthcare landscape thanks to specialist referrals

Chatbots could play a critical role in guiding patients toward specialized care within the healthcare landscape. By analyzing symptoms and medical history, chatbots could discern the need for specialized attention, offering tailored recommendations for consulting specific specialists based on the detected conditions. This process ensures that patients receive timely and appropriate care from healthcare professionals with expertise relevant to their specific health concerns. In doing so, chatbots contribute to a more streamlined and efficient healthcare journey, aiding patients in accessing the precise expertise they require for optimal medical care and saving physicians’ time, preventing unnecessary emergency room visits or overcrowding of primary care providers.
Ada Health, a German company, created an AI-powered symptom assessment and care navigation tool to allow such things, taking chatbots even further and positioning them as virtual symptom checker companions.

In short, chatbots in healthcare have multiple functions and can be powerful tools in the medical journey, for both patients and healthcare professionals. In addition to educating, empowering, and engaging patients, chatbots support disease management and can potentially provide general knowledge for better outcomes.

But although we are currently exploring the applications for chatbots in healthcare, it is important to keep in mind the need for better-performing technologies to fully utilize and capitalize on their potential. Depending on the complexity of the queries and the expectations, chatbots still have a long way to go before being full “digital companions and assistants of patients and healthcare professionals”.

You are interested in implementing or improving your chatbots? Or in exploring the solutions they can offer in specific medical contexts? Our team specialized in the use of AI in the healthcare sector can support you in your projects related to healthcare chatbots. Don’t hesitate to contact us !

About the author:

Valentin, Consultant at Alcimed’s Healthcare team in Germany

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