As a healthcare provider, you know that day and night, patients have important questions that they need fast answers to. Their satisfaction and well-being can depend on getting timely access to details surrounding medical procedures, insurance and billing matters, and other aspects of their care.
It's no secret that a significant portion of the patient experience promptly gets information about their health care status. That's so the patients can make the best possible decisions for their health and have a clearer view of their treatment options and what the future may hold for them.
In many cases, these questions are repetitive and revolve around common issues that your staff has been called upon to answer an untold number of times. While your staff should be happy to and capable of answering these questions, it's not necessarily the best use of their time. This is where a conversational AI agent can make a big difference.
While the most fundamental reason for answering patient FAQs may be obvious (to get them the answers they need), providers should prioritize the accuracy and efficiency of answering these questions. To start, it can impact a patient's health and outcome. For matters concerning medications or post-operative care, answering questions in a timely manner can be the difference between a speedy recovery and a dangerous complication.
Even beyond health, answering patient questions promptly will make a significant difference in the patient experience. If patients feel attended to and heard by your providers, even in a way as simple as answering their questions, they will be much more confident in your abilities and content with their care. Ultimately, something as simple as answering questions promptly and accurately can help your practice boost patient satisfaction, outcomes, and retention.
Now, here are the nine most frequently asked questions by patients for their healthcare providers:
1. What do I need to bring to the doctor's office, hospital, or clinic?
Busy patients may suddenly realize that they don't know what kind of information your organization expects them to bring with them. Integrating your guidelines and requirements for such details is a straightforward process.
A conversational AI agent is well-positioned to supply answers, such as the need to bring in the Medicare/Medicaid card or other insurance provider card, the patient's Social Security number, and a photo ID such as a driver's license. Each patient will have different requirements, which conversational AI can quickly pull up from the patient's record, such as Worker's Compensation details, or another doctor's referral paperwork, as noted by Baptist Health.
2. Are there any requirements before coming to the facility?
You can free up time for your busy physicians by supporting them with conversational AI to respond to each patient's FAQs. It will inform patients that they need to fast for 12 hours before a test, for example, or that they need to abstain from alcohol for a specific period before an operation.
3. What medications are being prescribed, and are there any contraindications?
A conversational AI system can take information from a patient's records in an EHR system. It will then pull data from the contraindications field and cross-reference the patient's RX information with a database of known contraindications. Premier Health pointed out that warnings about contraindications are essential for maintaining a patient's good health.
Advice from the virtual AI assistant can include whether the patient can take the medication on an empty stomach or only after a meal and information about over-the-counter contraindications, such as using an OTC allergy medicine and the patient's prescribed blood pressure pills at the same time.
4. What are the instructions for home after-care?
Sometimes, patients or their families are so busy when checking out from the hospital or leaving their primary care physician's office after treatment that they forget to read the instructions on how to take care of themselves at home.
It's simple for a conversation AI system to respond to frequently asked questions in after-care, such as how to take a shower while caring for a surgical wound or symptoms to keep an eye out for. The system can inform the patient or family member what to do if the patient's temperature spikes or what kinds of food or beverages to avoid during recovery.
5. How long will the recovery process be?
Patients don't always have a clear idea of their prognosis or how long it might take to recover from an illness, injury, or surgical procedure. To ease their mind, it's helpful to be able to reply quickly with an answer to this FAQ.
Conversational AI can connect details about the patient's status and recent procedure or diagnosis with the doctor's assessment of the amount of time needed to get back on the road to health.
6. What are the current COVID-19 precautions at this facility?
Because of the shifting nature of COVID-19 infections, the healthcare community's response to the global coronavirus pandemic will be affected by local transmission, infection, and hospitalization/death rates. It can be quite a chore to ensure that each staff member is up to speed on the latest COVID precautions. But when you update the information in a central location, it's simple for a conversational AI agent to provide instant answers to patient queries.
As noted by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, patients may call in asking whether to wear a mask or if their family needs to wear it when visiting them. They can also request a virtual AI assistant about booster shot availability or at what age their children are eligible for vaccinations. Letting conversational AI take care of answering frequently asked questions like this will free up your team to focus on more complex tasks and ensure that both staff and patients are safe.
7. Do I need a follow-up appointment?
Patients looking at their calendars may not be sure when they need to return to the doctor or clinic to assess their health status. The patient's records should include notes about the need to come back to the office in a week, a month, or if it's okay to set an appointment for a follow-up a year later. Conversational AI can help patients schedule appointments and follow-ups and automatically send reminders to ensure attendance.
8. Are there generic drugs I can take instead of brand-name medication?
Patients trying to control costs may have questions about how they can save on their prescription drugs. When someone calls your organization to ask about the availability of lower-cost options, there's no need to have your staff devote time and effort to situations that involve rote responses.
Instead, your conversational AI solution will verify a patient's list of prescribed medicines and look up each to determine if a suitable generic version is now available at a lower price.
9. When can I resume certain activities?
Top of mind for many patients and their loved ones will be when they might anticipate being allowed to resume their usual activities, per a report from the National Institute on Aging.
From returning to eating solid foods after a procedure, being able to swim, or doing other daily activities, these are all pieces of information that your conversational AI system can look up automatically in response to such a commonly asked question from patients.
Scale Provider Capacity and Delight Patients
Being responsive to patients as soon as possible when they have pressing questions is essential for maintaining transparency in your healthcare organization and improving patient care. To support your staff, especially when patient inquiries volume is high, it's beneficial to deploy solutions such as conversational AI.
As conversational AI replies to each patient FAQ that comes your way, your employees will be more capable of taking care of more complex tasks. Simultaneously, patients get the information they need when they request it, which will be instrumental in achieving higher satisfaction rates. Plus, as patients get accurate answers precisely when needed, they'll be more likely to stick to their recovery plan and maintain their health. Ultimately, it's a win-win for both providers and patients.
Interested in learning more about DRUID's conversational AI solutions for your healthcare practice? Download our free whitepaper, Transforming the Healthcare Experience.