Conversational AI: Helping healthcare organizations speak the language of care

Updated on November 6, 2023
Artificial intelligence, Healthcare, Robots in Healthcare, Healthcare Technology

Author Yehuda Berg said, “Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.” Words ease or escalate a situation, bringing clarity — or confusion. 

When spoken with little thought, words lose their ability to offer comfort, empathy or support. 

In healthcare, words matter. They matter a lot. And now, healthcare organizations can listen to millions of customer conversations at scale via artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). This ability has elevated conversational AI’s role as a valuable tool for gathering business intelligence about the organization’s customers — and actively helping healthcare choose its words wisely.

A focus on listening and hearing 

Healthcare is notorious for using jargon and unfamiliar terminology. The clinical terminology, like diagnoses, medical causes/reasons, prescription names and doses, and everything else, is complicated enough. Then, we layer on top the business-side of healthcare, with language around prior authorizations, deductibles, co-insurance and more. It’s all crushingly complex.  

Facing medical unknowns creates higher anxiety, a state of mind that makes it difficult for patients and caregivers to absorb and understand complicated details. Getting answers and reassurance is critical.

And yet, healthcare customers seeking information regularly find themselves stuck somewhere along their quest, whether they need clarity about billing or payment status, insurance benefits, or health status updates from their providers.

How pervasive is this problem? One quarter (25%) of healthcare customers face obstacles requiring them to return multiple times to their healthcare organization for help. 

Conversational AI helps organizations bridge the gap between customer needs and how they receive information. Healthcare organizations can improve the customer experience and health outcomes by understanding what patients are saying and how the frontline responds.

Conversational AI creates understanding

Among conversational AI’s most valuable contributions is its ability to identify areas of improvement and opportunities.  

A frustrated patient calls, asking, “Can you help me with this problem? I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I’m at a loss.” 

Agent One responds, “I’m not sure, either. You may need to speak to someone else.”

Agent Two says, “Let’s see what the doctor says, and we can go from there.”

Calls like these happen daily. Conversational AI helps organizations identify customer issues and respond more appropriately — like Agent Two — to guide customers navigating their healthcare journey, even when answers aren’t available at that moment.

Conversational AI listens to customer conversations at scale, aggregating the data to identify, analyze and diagnose the issues customers encounter. Leaders leverage these insights to develop and implement actionable solutions, which might look like ways to: 

  • Identify common customer pain points.
  • Uncover trends and patterns.
  • Discern areas for improvement.
  • Provide insights into customer satisfaction.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of customer service.
  • Trigger follow-ups for high priority customers.
  • Learn what is working.

This AI technology can analyze millions of conversations quickly, giving healthcare leaders valuable insights into the authentic customer experience to improve safety and quality, allocate resources more effectively, and, ultimately, improve access to care. 

Words have impact

When healthcare organizations choose their words thoughtfully and speak intentionally, they help customers move through their journeys with fewer interruptions or obstacles. 

Daily, contact center teams field calls from anxious, confused and worried patients and caregivers trying to navigate a complicated system while coping with emotional and physical pain. Agents offering the right words at the right time provide a soothing balm by calming fears, expressing empathy and offering information and support — all while conversational AI collects and generates valuable insights for the healthcare organization.

AI enables healthcare to improve and grow their skills to deliver better customer experiences and health outcomes. By assessing written and spoken communication, this technology uncovers opportunities for companies to improve their clarity, word choice, tone and overall effectiveness. It also:

  • Empowers individuals to recognize emotion in others and themselves.
  • Evaluates and gives feedback on responses to emotional cues.
  • Offers strategies to improve emotional intelligence.

Healthcare organizations also use AI-powered platforms to track contact center agents’ progress and recommend learning and development opportunities to ensure continuous, cumulative improvement. AI gives leadership access to additional data points for helping agents grow their skills — whether during onboarding, one-on-one coaching or regular training sessions.

Conversational AI helps humans understand one another better. By listening at scale to the voices of their customers, healthcare organizations gain access to a wealth of insights to create experiences that emphasize problem-solving and an empathetic mindset.

Leslie Pagel copy
Leslie Pagel

Leslie Pagel is the Chief Evangelist of Authenticx – a conversation analytics company dedicated to improving the way healthcare companies engage with patients. In this role, she creates awareness, across the healthcare industry, of more efficient and effective ways for healthcare organizations to deliver on their customer objectives. With over two decades of working with customer experience (CX) teams, Leslie helps clients actualize the voice of the patient to show how these voices prompt meaningful action.