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Written by Andrew Neal on Jan 25, 2023

Chatbots vs. Live Chat Support - Which is Better for Your Health System?

Which chat tool is right for your healthcare tech set?

Healthcare providers know that having an excellent customer support system in place is an essential part of delivering the best care to your patients. When they have questions, they get answers quickly and in the way that works for them, whether that’s in person, on the phone, or using online chat support.

As many revenue cycle leaders have learned since the onset of COVID-19, support extends beyond treatment and through the patient financial experience; and revenue cycle teams have a number of options when looking to update their online chat functionality. Automated chat bot support can be useful for answering basic questions, but it lacks complexity and delivers an impersonal experience. 24/7 live chat support allows providers to respond more efficiently, with solutions that are personalized to the patient and their needs.

Should health systems use 24/7 live chat or a chatbot?

Both options offer an online chat solution which can result in an improved patient experience, but there are several things to consider what will work best for your revenue cycle technology stack. Conversational online customer support could be the difference between a loyal patient and one who starts looking for a new provider.

24/7 Live Chat is tailored to each patient’s needs.

Live chat support allows patients to talk with a customer support representative any time they need help, addressing inquiries in real-time through a direct messaging platform. It often stands in place between phone support and in-person assistance as a way to communicate with patients, especially when these other services may be unavailable.

Patients are able to get answers instantly without leaving a provider’s website or talking to a customer support agent on the phone. When a patient has a question or an issue that needs to be addressed quickly, live chat support can help them feel heard and supported by your team.

A health system may decide to hire customer support in-house or outsource the service to a third party, depending on their financial capacity and compliance requirements.

Not all live chat support is created equally.

Like many industries, labor shortages have become more of a concern for healthcare revenue cycle teams in recent years. An in-house live chat support system comes with staffing obligations, and depending on how many support inquiries a provider receives, this could cause a delay in response time. Wait time is an important factor in the decision-making process.

Third-party healthcare chat support can help mitigate in-house staffing shortages. By partnering with a healthcare-specific, HIPAA compliant organization, providers allow that organization to act as an extension of their team when and as needed. This delegation of responsibility helps providers focus on their main priorities of delivering the best care and patient experience.

Human error must also be acknowledged, as much as providers try to limit its impact on the patient journey. Customer support specialists look to accurately answers questions and concerns, but they may not always get it right. When choosing the right 24/7 live chat support solution for your health system, ensure that the representatives are delivering accurate information to your patients.

Chatbots reveal the limitations of artificial intelligence in customer support.

A chatbot is an automated application built into a website that responds to customer inquires based on their requests. A chatbot requires no human interaction and relies on artificial intelligence (AI) bots and rule-based responses. This technology can use pre-determined responses and machine learning to mimic a human conversation and provide basic answers to common questions and issues.

For simple and frequent inquires, a chatbot can eliminate the need for an employee to take time to respond. Customer support teams are able to focus on more important tasks that demand personalized attention. Depending on the complexity of the tool, a chatbot can provide instant replies for appointment times, bill balance, and other common questions.

Person-to-person live chat support helps reduce communication issues, as AI-based systems may not have the nuance of language to understand certain words and phrases different people choose to use to explain their needs.

Many chatbots aren’t intelligent at all, but rule-based.

Many chatbots don’t use artificial intelligence or machine learning at all, despite advertising their software as intelligent. A rule-based response program follows a conversational path. For example, a patient is shown a number of frequent inquiries and can select one, only to be shown a link to an FAQ page or a generic response.

These chatbots are much more limited than advertised, even more limiting than having a live staff member answering questions. A frustrating customer support experience could impact your revenue cycle and overall patient satisfaction.

Scaling a health system and meeting growing expectations.

For health systems looking to scale, revenue cycle teams must be prepared to meet the demands of a growing patient base. This includes implementing a strong customer support infrastructure that moderates staff burden and maintains a high level of personalized care for a growing consumer base.

Chatbot support has virtually unlimited capacity to respond to patients, but is limited in its scope and specificity. The more questions that patients have the more customer support specialists will needed in order to meet the demand.

A third-party live chat system can alleviate growing pains as a system scales and confronts challenges to keep support tools both affordable and effective.

Salucro Live Chat delivers solutions for health systems.

Salucro’s IVR payment systems are built to accommodate automated payments, both over the phone and via 24/7 live chat support across all Salucro platforms. With tools that are designed to alleviate inbound call center volume and allow your revenue cycle team to do more with less, you can focus on delivering the best patient experience.

Salucro’s live chat support tool helps your patients make payments, log into their patient portal, and get personalized answers to their questions.

Communication is essential throughout every step of the care process, and when a patient needs to pay their bill, customer support should be accessible in a way that is most convenient for the patient. Salucro’s integrated solutions help center your tech stack around the patient experience.

Looking for a partner to help your practice enable a new, integrated digital payment experience?

Reach out to our team today to make 2024 your most effective year yet.