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Chatbots can boost patient engagement

The news: AllianceChicago, a network of more than 70 community health centers in 19 states, reported that using AI-enabled chatbots increased well-child visits and immunizations by 13% compared with a control group Visits and immunizations within the targeted group increased 27% overall.

How it worked: AllianceChicago used QliqSOFT’s Quincy AI-powered chatbots to engage in-network English- and Spanish-speaking parents and guardians serving approximately 10,500 children—the majority identifying as racial and ethnic minorities.

The digital outreach reminded families of upcoming well-child visits and immunizations, provided guidance materials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before the visit, and facilitated easy appointment scheduling. No apps were required for the interactions.

Why it’s worth watching: AI-powered chatbots are now front-and-center in the public’s attention since OpenAI debuted its ChatGPT chatbot late last year. Microsoft, an early investor in OpenAI, just announced a multi-year, multi-billion-dollar investment in the company. Google could release its own chatbot, Sparrow, later this year.

  • AI tools are already well established for applications like detecting abnormalities in medical images and aiding drug discovery and clinical trials.
  • Marketers anticipate using generative AI for creating content like social media posts, product listings, and personalizing marketing campaigns.
  • Wider use of chatbots by consumers may be coming, as companies like DoNotPay roll out AI tools that help customers negotiate bills or threaten legal action over bad customer service.

A critical part of the digital patient journey: AI-powered chatbots are entrenched in most companies’ digital front doors. But their use by healthcare providers still has a long way to go.

  • A Panda Health survey of healthcare executives last year found that 61% were still looking for website chatbots to use as digital care navigators.

The AllianceChicago study shows that personalized messages from AI-powered chatbots can boost patient engagement among underserved populations. Researchers noted that follow-up patient interviews indicated a high level of satisfaction with using the chatbot and intentions to use it in the future.

This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Digital Health Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the healthcare industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.