Conversa Health


Busting 6 myths about automated patient engagement

Oct '17
Healthcare providers need to engage patients between encounters, to meet the objectives of value-based care. But traditional in-person or telephonic methods cost both time and money. To offer support and outreach guidance that patients need to improve outcomes – without overextending already constrained resources – healthcare systems are looking at automating wherever possible.

Automated patient engagement means that clinicians conduct ongoing, digital conversations with patients between visits. They can schedule communications based on the patient’s needs, whether it’s managing a chronic disease, checking in after discharge or preparing for an upcoming surgery. Expertly designed “bots” have conversations with patients to make sure they are on track for better outcomes.

This is a relatively new approach, and it challenges some of the systemic beliefs that have built up over many years in healthcare. Here are some of the most common myths around automated patient engagement:

  1. Patients are not comfortable talking to bots. People have come to expect automated customer service interactions in almost every other industry. Gartner estimates that by 2020, 85% of all customer service interactions will be without a human. Chat paradigms are familiar and comfortable for patients, and they are available 24/7.
  2. Automation is too generic. Advanced technical capabilities enable automated conversations to draw from health record data and clinical history, making it more personalized to the patient. No patient gets the same conversation twice, and no two conversations are the same.
  3. Bots will miss nuances required to offer effective guidance. While humans bring bias into every interaction, bots don’t. Automated conversations offer no judgment and are generally more consistent. Bots will take patient information and respond with the most effective, evidence-based guidance every time.
  4. Data collection is just a survey process. Every interaction with the patient holds the opportunity to do more with information given. An automated conversational system offers immediate insight and education, which breaks the old paternalistic model of healthcare and enables patients to participate more fully in their own care.
  5. Older patients are not digitally enabled. People aged 65 and older account for about one-third of U.S. healthcare spending, so it is important that patient engagement efforts be successful with this population. Our clients have found that Medicare beneficiaries fully engage with our automated patient engagement solution, and that number increases when you include their caregivers.
  6. There is no financial return on automated patient engagement. For financially constrained health systems, it is important to weigh the return on investment for new solutions. Automation enables healthcare to support patients in a more ongoing or collaborative way, which builds a better long-term relationship. It also can help triage patients, so only those who can most benefit from a visit come into the office, leading to a higher-coded reimbursement mix.

Conversational automated systems help healthcare maintain a high level of patient engagement. We’re talking more about next-generation patient and provider engagement at the Connected Health Conference in Boston, Massachusetts this week.

Editor’s note: Allscripts recently formed a partnership with Conversa Health,  an automated patient conversation platform, to power Allscripts CareInMotion™ Engage.