Piedmont Healthcare has a chatbot on its website. Go ahead, ask it a question.
At the Healthcare Marketing and Physician Strategies Summit this spring, Matt Gove, Chief Consumer Officer for the Atlanta-based system told attendees how he made it happen. The main forces? Sheer will and determination.
“You’ve just got to do stuff,” Gove told the marketers in the room. “You just can’t wait around. Nobody is going to say you’re ‘allowed’ to do things.”
When Gove saw that 70 percent of users were leaving Piedmont’s website within 10 seconds of arriving, he wanted to find a better way to answer the questions that patients have. Among those are questions about billing, parking, or making appointments.
So, working with Brian Gresh, President of Loyal, Gove built a chatbot that has now replaced Piedmont’s entire “Patients & Visitors” page. But it’s not something they just threw up there overnight. The chatbot is powered by a structured data source: the hospital’s website.
“You can’t put a chatbot on your site and hope it’ll solve a problem,” Gresh says. “You have to put data behind it and guide it to provide the right answers. It’s constantly learning. The more you ask it, the more it will learn.”
The Human Touch
Not only has the chatbot changed the way patients get information, it has also changed how the Piedmont Healthcare call center is run. Agents get to work from home and don’t have to be stuck on the phone answering calls. If the chatbot doesn’t know the answer to a question, it gets re-directed to a human. Gove and Gresh shared a few general statistics on chatbot technology:
- Customer service agents can engage in as many as six chats simultaneously
- Chatbots have been shown to increase conversions by 20 percent
- Chatbot technology can save businesses up to $8 billion annually worldwide by 2022
Another benefit to Piedmont’s chatbot? It can be used to promote Piedmont Healthcare apps. For example, if a patient is asking for directions on how to get to the hospital, the chatbot assumes the patient is going there. Within its response, it can direct patients to download Piedmont Now, an app that’s geared specifically for hospital wayfinding.
“We’re not at the point where we can replace a whole website with a chatbot,” says Gove, “but that’s where we’re headed.”
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Jessica Levco is a contributing writer for Healthcare Strategy Alert and the Forum for Healthcare Strategists blog.