Are you listening? How AI-driven Chat is changing patient conversations.

Caleb Burrill
Caleb Burrill is Marketing Manager, Healthcare at Flywire

Above all, patients want helpful choices out of their digital experiences.

When health leaders think about personalization they may only think about serving up timely information they believe their patients might want. While this is a very powerful strategy for engagement in and of itself, personalization can also be about choice. Enter AI-driven chat. The ability to self-serve through the chat experience allows patients to tailor their own experiences, customizing the journey that is right for them.

Recall the “choose your own adventure” novels from your childhood and that satisfying feeling of setting off on a journey to find the ending that is perfect for you. According to a recent white paper from Botco.AI, consumers are going through a similar process and searching for a similar feeling when they land on your homepage:

“Think of the dialogue that is going through your customer’s heads when they come to your website. ‘Where can I find that spec?’ Or, ‘I wonder if this product integrates with Acme Software easily.’ Or, ‘I’d really like to use this product — but what about the support terms?’’

It’s critical in today's competitive, consumer-driven environment that revenue cycle leaders account for similar questions patients might be seeking answers to, like:

  • I have a billing-related question. How can I find an answer?
  • What is my current balance?
  • How can I make a payment today?

Providers that are focused on building better consumer experiences make the answers to those questions easily navigable and readily available so that the visitor feels like everything is at his or her fingertips.

Patients want the ability to get answers to questions, view billing information, and make payments on their own terms. When done right, this experience feels like a natural evolution of the current ways that patients communicate. In other words, it elevates the conversations that patients are already having by making the process easier, faster, and more convenient.

Providing easier avenues for patients to find and use helpful information- especially when making billing and payment decisions- can be a brand-defining turn. Frictionless experiences inspire customer loyalty and will make your health system stand out. This comes from the same white paper, from Botco.AI:

What we know for sure is that buyers and consumers don’t want to spend time pointing and clicking through your website, blogs and white papers to find the information they need before purchasing or making an appointment. Is that how you like to spend your own time when shopping?”

The true power of chat is that it allows patients to immediately self-serve the experience that they want. If you’re interested in how to create a frictionless digital experience for your patients, below, we’ll examine some recent consumer trends and explore how they can apply to your billing and payment experience.


Seeking innovation from other industries

True innovation rests on informed predictions. Being able to use data and trends taken from other industries and apply them to your own experience helps you anticipate the needs of your customer base as they develop. Flywire takes a similar approach with its customers by using the combined knowledge of our four verticals -healthcare, education, travel, and B2B.

In looking at consumer trends across industries, the adoption of digital tools like chat have skyrocketed since the start of the Covid-19. Whether using tools for work, socialization, connection, or entertainment, double-digit growth is being experienced across the board.

This adoption is not only happening across industries but also across age groups. Regardless of industry, seniors are becoming more accustomed to using digital technology than ever before. Healthcare is no different. According to a recent global consumer report, 1-in-4 seniors now visit health-related or medical sites on a weekly basis.

One of the digital areas that have experienced tremendous growth over the past two years, which revenue cycle leaders should be aware of, is self-service payments. In a recent survey, 60% of US online adults started making online transactions for the first time. 44% of US consumers updated the technology in their homes to accommodate these changes in behavior. In another survey, 47% said they have used and plan to continue to use mobile payments.

This rise in digital adoption and changes in consumer behavior are being channeled by tools like AI-driven chat, leading to massive shifts in consumer strategy and calls for rapid digital transformation. Perhaps the most useful industry to spotlight during this period for healthcare is retail. Due to their shared brick-and-mortar nature, retail is experiencing similar challenges to healthcare, like supply chain disruption and talent shortages. How they’ve adapted to these challenges could prove illuminative for health leaders.

According to a report by IBM:

more than half of retail (58%) and consumer products (55%) executives are focused on building agility to adapt faster to changes in demand. In this environment, retailers and brands need to lead with purpose—and use technology as a differentiator—to enable customers to build their own shopping journeys.”

Likewise. 39% of retailers named investments in customer experience as their top priority over the next 12 months- the most of any category.

It’s no wonder chat is becoming increasingly popular in these industries due to its ability to solve common communication and staff shortage problems, like slow response times to inquiries, overworked staff, and lack of knowledge on where to go to get answers to common problems.

Embracing the changing patient conversation

With more patients valuing the ready availability of digital tools and their self-service capabilities, Flywire believes that AI-driven chat is set to become the next big thing in healthcare.

When thinking of chat, don’t only consider it as a widget on a website, says John Talaga, Executive Vice President and GM of Healthcare. It could be two-way texting or voice response with Alexa or Google.

“Really the power of chat is that it takes what has traditionally been outbound notifications and inbound patient phone calls and turns them into two-way digital conversations. It allows bots to take patients all the way to authentication, even for providing payment options and driving them to payment. The potential of chatbots as they roll out further in the engagement platform is to at some point completely replace phone calls and even potentially websites as we know them today.”

Flywire hc are you listening featured

Spotlight

This year a mid-sized health system partnered with Flywire to implement an AI-driven chat solution. Their overall goal is to reduce call volume for their staff. With 17 hospitals, the client is averaging over 70,000 phone calls per month. Even a slight reduction in call volume could greatly improve their margin on the cost to collect. With the average across industries for call volume reduction from implementing chat solutions being around 40%, AI-driven chat is proving to not only create a better consumer experience but to have a positive impact on business goals.

More than 40 percent of healthcare executives believe that AI tools and applications like chat will have the greatest impact on their organizations within the next few years. Even so, it can be challenging to know where to start or what areas to concentrate on.

As you look to develop your own digital strategy, here are some common aspects revenue cycle leaders are finding truly valuable as they employ AI-enabled chat to help their teams:

  • Easily surface answers to billing-related questions.
  • Provide inquiries on balances and other billing information.
  • Self-serve payment plans directly inside the chat experience.
  • Gain deeper insights into frequently asked questions, responses, and patterns leading to a better understanding of patient needs.
  • Offer 24/7 availability.
  • Gain real-time performance analytics like response times, volume, and duration.
  • Significantly reduce call volume.

Mining results in these areas will make a huge difference to your digital transformation journey, helping you change the way patients communicate with you and inspiring loyalty in your patient population.

Looking for more great insights on chat? Check out these additional resources.