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Healthcare providers can now deliver better 24/7 patient care with the help of voice AI. While telephone-based health services have gained prominence and acceptance in recent years, voice AI makes it possible to automate many of these services, allowing patients to access interactive telephone-based health services around the clock, without compromising on the underlying quality of care.

About voice AI

Voice automation uses artificial intelligence technology and advanced voice synthesis to create voicebots — also called voice assistants — which are able to take (and make) calls and interpret the intents of the person they are speaking to without the need for user-operated menu systems or the full-time support of human operators.

Voicebots use natural language understanding and processing (NLU and NLP) technology to work out what someone is trying to do, help them and respond to questions from callers about the service, no matter how that person chooses to express themselves. This capability which allows people to converse with the AI interactively has led to this technology to be referred to as conversational AI.

Learn more about conversational AI technology.

Benefits of voice AI for healthcare providers

Automating healthcare services with voice AI offers healthcare providers two main benefits:

  • The services become much more scalable.

Giving a caller direct, fast access to services is of particular importance for healthcare. With telephone-based health services, the availability of staff is a limiting factor. At peak times, callers can face long queues to speak to an operator. Using voicebots, thousands of callers can be served simultaneously with almost no call waiting, with call-back scheduling options available for those callers who still need human assistance.

  • The services can be offered 24/7 without significantly increasing costs.

Organizations using voice assistants report a reduction of customer service operating costs of as much as 30%. Whereas a traditional 24-hour health hotline requires staff to be available in shifts, voice AI is available at lower cost to the provider, regardless of what time it is in operation. Public holidays, late night shifts and other periods where human resource costs might be higher have no impact on the costs of voicebot operation.

Why is there a need for automation in healthcare?

The World Health Organization predicts that by 2035 there will be a global shortage of around 12.9 million healthcare workers. Automation offers one significant way for the healthcare industry to continue to meet growing demand for healthcare services.

Healthcare providers who are able to effectively automate their patient services will not only maintain their competitiveness moving forward but also control costs in an increasingly tight and uncertain labor market.

Are patients ready to use voice assistants for health services?

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption and acceptance of telemedicine services among patients. McKinsey research estimates that consumer adoption of telemedicine rose from 11% in 2019 to as much as 46% by 2020 as a replacement for in-person healthcare visits.

In part, the lockdown measures made remote health services necessary for managing contagion. At the same time, the high number of inquiries concerning symptoms and vaccine roll outs drove the need at medical centers for highly scalable, mass information services.

Voice AI offers automated self-service options as a way to further scale phone-based health and information services beyond what would be possible with only human operators. The convenience, accuracy and efficiency of automated health services are the main drivers of acceptance and adoption of voice assistants by end users.

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Voice Assistant Use in Healthcare Nearly Tripled Over Two Years and Demand Still Outstrips Supply – New Report (Source: voicebot. ai)

How voice AI can facilitate 24/7 healthcare-related services

There are three main areas in which voice AI excels at delivering self-service options for the healthcare industry.

Automated medical reception services

Staff at medical receptions often have to juggle between busy phone lines and even busier reception waiting areas. Voice assistants are able to answer many incoming calls and help callers directly with a range of convenient self-service options without the need for the intervention of human operators. This frees up the valuable time of the clinic’s reception staff to focus on patient care.

Examples of automated voice AI-powered medical reception services include:

  • Making and managing appointments on self-service basis
  • Proactively confirming appointments with patients
  • Automated appointment notification calls
  • Gathering information for ordering repeat prescriptions
  • Gathering information for pre-authorizations

Listen to a voice assistant confirm an appointment booking with a clinic patient:

Healthcare providers who are able to effectively automate their patient services will not only maintain their competitiveness moving forward but also control costs in an increasingly tight and uncertain labor market.

Remote medical triage

The combination of machine learning and voice AI also allows for the creation of powerful and sophisticated voicebots with which callers can interact to triage symptoms with accuracy on par with human agents.

Leading healthcare service provider Infermedica, for example, uses Talkie.ai’s voicebot technology in combination with their own powerful diagnostic engine to create a voice assistant that is able to assess patient symptoms with around 93% accuracy for most common ailments over the phone.

Such services are linked securely to medical record systems to provide medical supervisors with clear and detailed oversight of all interactions with the voicebot.

Any healthcare organization [can] benefit from powerful virtual triage agents, without the need to write a single line of code. The solution is easily scalable and can be deployed at a fraction of the cost of traditional call-center solutions. From 24/7 patient support to reducing strain on already overburdened healthcare systems, the advantages of automating the medical triage telephone process are vast for providers and patients alike.
Tomasz Domino COO at Infermedica

Read more about the Infermedica use case.

Easy to access information services

Voice assistants also excel at providing information interactively to callers. Rather than requiring callers to navigate slow and often complex menu systems or IVR menus, callers can directly ask the voice assistant for assistance and the voicebot will be able to serve up the relevant information. Not only does this offer callers convenience, but it also frees up any available human operators to deal with critical calls such as medical emergencies which might otherwise be placed in a queue.

Examples of the types of information a voice assistant can provide as part of an automated service include:

  • Clinic opening hours and location information
  • Information on specialist availability
  • Basic medical advice
  • Information bulletins on vaccines, appointment availability or the latest medical advice

In novel situations such as the outbreak of a contagious disease in a community, the volume of calls requesting information can threaten to overwhelm human staff. Voice AI offers a way for callers to get the information they need at any time without being put on hold.

How voice AI helps you deliver better patient care 24/7

Voice automation is not a replacement for your human staff but it can certainly work side-by-side with your team to augment your capabilities to deliver better patient care at scale. Voice AI can help your team at peak times to ensure each and every call is answered and also offer after-hours support that is both convenient and useful for your patient community.

Get in touch with our experts

 Find out how voice AI solutions from Talkie.ai can help you deliver better 24/7 patient care.