Although widely used in many other industries, online chat is just beginning to take off in healthcare. In fact, as healthcare leaders increasingly prioritize patient access, chat’s success in other businesses has spurred the rapid onboarding of chat solutions to help address healthcare-specific engagement and accessibility challenges.
However, despite online chat’s growing popularity, some healthcare organizations are slower to adopt these solutions into their operations. Whether citing the challenges of limited staff time to onboard new solutions, or concerns around punting patient engagement to automated systems, some healthcare leaders still have reservations when it comes to chat adoption.
To set the scene, it’s important to define what chat in healthcare actually is: “Chat” can refer to any of a set of online, digital access technologies that can be deployed at clinics, hospitals and provider offices. Online Chat can be set up in multiple ways:
- fully automated in the case where organizations implement chatbots to address certain common patient questions (company hours, directions, insurance details, etc.).
- involve the use of live online Q&A with administrative or clinic staff.
- hybrid chat technology which allows clinicians to custom configure solutions that automate responses on certain topics and intelligently defers to live staff on other inquiries.
The good news is that the more healthcare leaders understand about the value of an online chat tool, the faster they adopt and put these patient engagement solutions in place. The use of online chat in healthcare has brought many benefits:
- more efficient patient self-service
- better patient engagement
- easy scalability of service hours
- reduced administrative tasks
- better appointment reminders
- less hold time for patients
- and more efficient ways to handle patient insurance inquiries, recommend wellness programs, and manage care for chronic conditions.
Chat technologies provide ways organizations can improve internal administrative workflows and increase patient satisfaction. Better automation and quicker problem resolution for patients makes a significant difference demonstrating competitive differentiation for providers. The most successful realizations in increased savings, added efficiencies, and higher patient satisfaction today, seem to be at practices that have taken the time to prioritize the patient experience by implementing tools to help improve a patient’s access to care.
To learn more about the value of online chat, listen to this podcast discussing the end of the phone tag era in healthcare.