eTech Insight –  Healthcare Chatbots Will Enable Better Care - Cover

eTech Insight – Healthcare Chatbots Will Enable Better Care

Healthcare Resources Are Being Strained to Support Care Delivery

COVID-19 exacerbated the impact that the lack of healthcare resources has on providers’ ability to deliver low-cost, high-quality, safe patient care. A recent article on emerging chatbots for supporting healthcare delivery services identified the following issues that need to be addressed to improve care delivery:

  • According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, we’ll face a shortage of 122,000 physicians by 2032.
  • One study found that adding just a single patient to a nurse’s workload increases mortality rates by 7%. 
  • The stress of COVID-19 and practice in general is driving many overburdened doctors to retire early

Healthcare consumers are becoming more sophisticated in their use of web services and expectations for web services to support their lifestyles. The ability to create healthcare services that are trusted and easily accessed via mobile applications, websites, or patient portals will become a critical consideration for consumers to select where they receive their healthcare services. 

While insurance coverage may reign in consumer options for healthcare services, the emergence of retail pharmacies with ambulatory care services for a fixed low price will provide consumers the ability to select some services they will pay for themselves relative to convenience.

Competition for the healthcare consumer will result in payers and providers launching AI healthcare chatbots that can quickly provide evidence-based care guidance that improves patient engagement while reducing healthcare professional workloads.

AI Chatbots Will Continue to Exert Influence in Healthcare Support

The global healthcare chatbots market is expected to reach $703.2 million by 2025 from $183.3 million in 2019, growing at a CAGR of 25.1%. AI chatbots can support a range of healthcare services, such as these:

  • Organizing patient pathways better
  • Supporting medication management
  • Assisting consumers with help in emergency situations or with first aid
  • Offering a solution for simple medical issues
  • Helping reduce no-shows for colonoscopies

What is apparent is that AI-based chatbots will become more sophisticated and useful for consumers very quickly. Many AI chatbot vendors are differentiating their solutions according to the evidence-based medical data used to create the NLP services that support the chatbot services. As an example, Buoy Health sources over 18,000 clinical papers, covering 5 million patients and spanning 1,700 conditions to create its NLP environment with the support of the Harvard Innovation Labs.

Chatbots are gaining traction globally as represented by Baidu (China), Your.MD (UK), Babylon Health (UK), Infermedica (Poland), Ada (Germany), and PACT Care BV (Netherlands). These solutions may compete with solutions from U.S. companies.

Soon, the majority of consumer healthcare experiences are likely to be accommodated by AI chatbots. Provider and payer organizations who do not offer intuitive chatbot solutions that are effectively integrated into patient portals, scheduling applications, and EHRs may find leakage in their patient population services. In many cases, these leakages will be driven by competitive retail pharmacy companies that understand the impact of cost and convenience on patient-care service selection.

The Justification

Many healthcare providers are just beginning to implement AI chatbots to engage patients and improve care delivery. UC Health implemented Livi, an AI-powered tool, to assist patients in finding a physician or a provider location and learned quickly that patients wanted more functionality. Healthcare is quickly transforming into a patient-focused industry that will drive providers to implement AI chatbots to improve patient engagement and satisfaction in order to remain competitive and viable.

The ability to add well-designed AI chatbots to a provider’s web and mobile services will provide 24/7 consumer support while reducing care delivery overhead for healthcare professionals who can be focused on high-risk patients.

Lack of Market Leaders Will Drive Consolidation

The AI chatbot market is comprised of several emerging companies with no clear market leaders. These are representative companies to watch that will provide insights to the market:

  • Buoy Health – developed in the Harvard Innovation Labs
  • Your.MD – based in the UK; the app is called Healthily
  • Ada – symptom checker platform with over 11 million users   
  • Gyant  patient-engagement focused with impressive portfolio of provider clients
  • Livi  – developed by UC Health using Alexa smart device to engage patients

Success Factors

  1. AI chatbots should be evaluated to determine the basis of their evidence-based medicine that is used to appropriately guide patients.
  2. Provider physician groups should be engaged to evaluate AI chatbots for use in patient portals.
  3. AI chatbot solutions should be established as focused, service prototype projects to test effectiveness with meeting patient expectations and impacting patient workflows relative to care needs.


As AI chatbots continue to gain acceptance by consumers and providers, they will become a must-have component of the patient engagement portfolio. These solutions will expand beyond standalone mobile apps and patient portal components to include smart home speakers (e.g., Alexa, Google Home, etc.). Smart home speakers will eventually develop or integrate more sophisticated healthcare chatbots into their solutions. This integration will emerge as interoperability of healthcare data is achieved and the AI chatbots have access to a wider range of patient data.

Provider organizations must be diligent in monitoring what their patients are using for AI chatbot services to ensure appropriate guidance and to ensure they are considered in care-delivery service recommendations of the chatbots. As AI chatbots begin to include transparent provider pricing, care quality, and outcomes data in their physician and provider recommendations, their value propositions with consumers will increase exponentially. Providers who do not have AI chatbots included in their strategic planning will incur a higher level of business risk to their organizations.

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock, tippapatt