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Voice AI can help medical clinics with the cost of repeat prescription refilling by autonomously managing patient experience over the phone.

Repeat prescription refill is a consumer-as-patient service

As medical facilities and individual practices continue to conglomerate under hospital systems in the US, administrators and technology officers are looking at ways business automation tools. Automation can help make drug administration more efficient, and ultimately, maintain competitive cost-to-consumer prices for clinical drug dispensary services. Voice AI-powered virtual assistants are rapidly finding a role in delivering better patient experiences.

Dispensing refill prescriptions is a key service that medical clinics provide to patients as consumers. As a business process, ordering repeat prescriptions is also a time-consuming process that needs the time of specialists to oversee the correct and effective use of medicines and ensure safe outcomes for patient therapy.

Consumers, meanwhile, are facing rising healthcare costs, especially the rising costs of drugs and prescription medications. The U.S. Health Price Index (2022) reports that the mean price of prescription refills ranges around $41 per visit, with the U.S. reported per capita spending of $1,229 on prescription drugs.

Consumer spending per service in the US (Source)

Healthcare providers who are able to offer easy-to-access and competitively priced prescription refill services will have the edge over their competition. By lowering operating overheads with AI-powered automation, providers can give consumers superior customer self-service service options that also support clinic staff with time-saving features.

Voice assistants offer patients a convenient self-service option when calling a clinic to order refill prescriptions that they can complete on a straightforward call.

How voice automation supports issuing repeat prescriptions

Voice channels are important channels by which patients contact their healthcare providers. The majority of patients who use repeat prescription services are elderly, with 85% of adults aged 60 or older reportedly having used prescription drugs in the past 30 days. Most people in this demographic still prefer to call their healthcare provider rather than use a digital platform or app.

Voice assistants – automated voicebots powered with artificial intelligence – offer healthcare providers a way to reduce the time and costs associated with refilling prescriptions as well as improving the accuracy of the services.

With conversational AI, callers can interact with voice assistants using natural speech to submit requests for refills. The voice assistants can interview patients to gather required information for fulfilling the request. For many patients, especially older patients, providing the mandatory information to fulfill a prescription refill request over the phone is easier and more convenient than filling in an online form.

Watch how one of our Talkie.ai voice assistants receives an inbound prescription refill request from a human caller:

Thank you for contacting Easy Health Clinic. How can I help you today?

API: 133-254-0156 calling
Caller: Andrew Stewart

Yeah, I’d like to refill my prescription please.

Intent: prescription_refill

Sure, I can help you with that. I have matched your phone number to a record in our system, but I still need some additional information for verification purposes.

Can you please provide me with your full name?

My name is Andrew Stewart.

Name: verified

Okay, thank you. And what are the last four digits of your social security number?

SSN: *****5289


SSN: verified

Thank you. Can you also tell me your date of birth?

DOB: October 17th, 1983

It’s October 17th, 1983.

DOB: verified

Great, thank you. Now, could you please tell me who is your prescribing doctor?

Yes, it’s doctor Steven Jones.

Caller’s doctor: Steven Jones

Okay, and what’s the name of the medication for which you would like to get a refill?

It’s somaxine.

Requested refill: Somaxine; med_ID: 41267746728

And lastly, what is the dosage of that medication?

10 milligrams.

Dose: 10mg

Great, that’s everything I need. Your request will be passed over to doctor Jones for verification and approval. You will be receiving a call within the next 48hrs with the status of your request.

Additionally, I’ve just sent you an SMS confirming all the details. Is there anything else I can help you with today?

API: send_confirmation_text

No, that’s everything, thank you!

Great, have a wonderful day!

Talkie’s medical voice assistants offer callers a dedicated voice-based 24/7 self-service for reordering prescription refills.

Our voice assistants are able to handle many of the call-based processes for refilling repeat prescriptions without the need for the intervention of a human agent:

  • Taking the refill request call from the patient
  • Automatically updating refill request record systems
  • Notifying patients of upcoming refill periods and refill order status with automated calls or SMS

Learn more about our refill prescription order voicebots over here.

Supporting pharmacist decision-making

Voice assistants also support pharmacist decision-making on prescription refill fulfillment in a number of key ways.

A 2021 study highlighted some of the key challenges pharmacists face when issuing repeat prescriptions:

  • The majority of patients request prescription refills too early or after the medication supply has finished
  • The repeat prescription requested is no longer aligned with the most recent therapeutic plan set out by the primary physician
  • Insufficient or out-of-date treatment information from the physician that requires a follow up call from the pharmacist to complete the prescription

Here are some of the ways a prescription refill service that uses voice assistants as support can help pharmacists:

1. It saves pharmacists valuable time

By taking initial calls from patients or physicians, the voice assistants are able to handle the majority of the information gathering that needs to be done over the phone without the need for human intervention.

2. Voice assistants gather accurate data

Voice assistants follow a carefully designed script to ensure that all the questions that need to be answered are asked during the call. While voice assistants are flexible enough to respond to patient questions and digressions, they will return the conversation to the important details smoothly. This ensures that each and every call is standardized and no questions are overlooked.

3. Voice assistants can automatically notify patients when they need to refill

One of the biggest issues for pharmacists is that patients order their prescription refills too early or too late. An automatic notification calendar can be set up so that the voice assistant calls (or sends an SMS) to patients to remind them of when they should order their refill.

4. Time spent on administration can be reduced with automation

When integrated with a dispensary or medical record system, the voice AI can transfer information from the call directly into a database. This means the pharmacist can access the complete records in the required report format almost immediately after the call.

5. Follow-up calls with physicians can be automated

Another time-consuming but important task for pharmacists is making follow up calls with physicians about individual prescriptions. For example, a particular brand drug might become unavailable and the pharmacist needs to check with the physician that a replacement drug is acceptable. Getting hold of the physician to talk can be tricky but with voice assistants, the calls can be automated. For frequent questions, the voice assistant can interview the physician at a time convenient for the physician. The pharmacist can be notified when the call appointment with the physician has been made or the questions otherwise answered.

Supporting clinical staff

By taking calls related to ordering prescription refills, voice assistants can help reduce the total amount of call traffic that clinic staff have to handle on a day-to-day basis. When combined with other voice assistant services such as a voice assistant to handle appointment bookings, voice AI can be a significant time saver for clinic staff who are then free to help on site patients or take calls that require human agent support.

Better outcomes for patients and providers with voice AI

The use of voice assistants has already become commonplace in other industries such as retail and logistics. It is beginning to make an impact on healthcare, helping providers offer call-based self services which are convenient and easy to use for patients, lower in operating cost than hiring additional contact center staff and it saves clinic staff time to focus on better patient care.

In the long term, automation of drug administration will see greater standardization in the way drug prescription information is gathered, resulting in better patient health outcomes.

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