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How Healthcare Chatbots Help Clinics Provide Better Care

By: Nextech | May 31st, 2024

How Healthcare Chatbots Help Clinics Provide Better Care Blog Feature

In 2024, artificial intelligence touches nearly everything we do. Forward-thinking healthcare practices are finding they can serve patients better and more efficiently by leveraging AI in the form of healthcare chatbots.

What Is a Healthcare Chatbot?

A chatbot is a computer application that uses AI to respond to questions and statements in an appropriate, conversational way. In a healthcare setting, chatbots often act like a 24/7 front desk associate. They answer routine questions, schedule appointments, and provide other patient assistance.

In late 2022, ChatGPT introduced the public to a new kind of chatbot. While earlier chatbots were often limited to canned responses to preprogrammed questions, GPTs (generative pre-trained transformers) have an intelligence based on natural language. This allows the user to steer the conversation and get specific, tailored responses.

Why Use Chatbots in Healthcare?

U.S. healthcare is faced with staffing shortages and burnout rates that are only getting worse. Chatbots help alleviate the pressure on staff stretched too thin to handle routine queries.

Healthcare might seem like a challenging environment for artificial intelligence. After all, it’s a uniquely human-to-human field.

Far from reducing the humanity of the industry, healthcare chatbots actually make it possible for patients to get better, more personal care.

Relieving pressure on staff also benefits patients. Convenience is king in the modern world. People are no longer willing to wait on hold before asking a question or stand in line to schedule an appointment.

Finally, the internet has turned the general public into a nation of amateur researchers. Unfortunately, the information you can glean from typing symptoms into Google often ranges from frightening to confusing to downright harmful.

Chatbots offer patients a way to ask clarifying questions of a reliable source – their doctor’s office – 24 hours a day.

Benefits of Chatbots in Healthcare

Chatbots offer advantages to healthcare practices and to the patients they serve. Practices benefit from higher efficiency and lower costs. Patients benefit from quick, convenient service and a confidential way to discuss private matters.

Higher Efficiency

With routine questions and simple administrative tasks off their plates, clinic staff can work more efficiently. They have more time and focus to dedicate to patients with more complex issues to discuss.

Nextech is developing a virtual assistant chatbot that will be able to successfully handle up to 85% of routine conversations, freeing up staff for more important work.

Lower Costs

Lessening the workload for administrative staff allows small practices to operate with a leaner workforce. Allowing staff to use their working hours more productively also reduces the need for overtime.

Quick Answers

Chatbots can provide quick answers to simple patient queries. There’s no need for patients to spend time on hold when all they want is to reschedule an appointment or find out if their prescription should be taken with food.

Greater Convenience

Office hours are not always the most convenient time for a patient to call. When they have a question after hours, on the weekend, or over a holiday, the chatbot can resolve their issue immediately.


Healthcare questions are often of a private nature. Some patients may be uncomfortable discussing their condition with anyone but their doctor.

A chatbot is an anonymous solution. The patient can ask their question of the machine without the self-consciousness that comes with speaking to a person.

Disadvantages of AI Chatbots

For all their good points, chatbots are not without controversy. In healthcare, there are particular concerns about accuracy, data privacy, and reliability.


Chatbots are only as smart and up-to-date as the models used to train them.

For example, ChatGPT 3.5, a free public chatbot, was last updated in early 2022. If you ask it about ChatGPT-4, released in 2023, it will tell you that version doesn’t exist.

In a healthcare context, this means chatbots may not be aware of the latest regulations, warnings, or best practices.

Data Privacy

Medical practices are bound by strict data privacy laws, including HIPAA. While chatbots specifically designed for healthcare can be built to take these regulations into account, a generic GPT will be unable to identify and safeguard sensitive patient information.


While chatbots can be tremendously valuable in relieving the pressure on administrative clinic staff, they cannot be trusted to deliver medical advice.

Clinicians consider myriad nuances and variables when suggesting a course of action. Even the most advanced modern chatbots can’t replace their expertise.


AI “hallucinations” is a phenomenon in which a poorly trained GPT fills in gaps in its knowledgebase with convincing, but false, information. It may even offer phony citations as a source.


One of the top complaints people have about chatbot interactions is that the AI can’t understand their question. Human language is incredibly complex and constantly evolving. A chatbot will do its best to deliver the requested information, but sometimes it just doesn’t have the context to understand what the user wants.

Healthcare Use Cases for Chatbots

Healthcare technology uses AI to advance its products and enhance the way providers care for their patients. Chatbots offer a variety of assistance to medical practices, including:

  • Appointment management
  • Patient onboarding
  • Finding nearby providers
  • Prescription management
  • Pre-procedure and post-procedure guidance
  • Symptom FAQs
  • Insurance claims
  • Education
  • Customer feedback
  • Disease management
  • Records access
  • Forms
  • Abandoned carts

Use Case 1: Appointment Management

Using a chatbot, patients can schedule, cancel, and reschedule appointments without tying up front desk staff. Smart scheduling tools avoid issues like double booking.

Chatbots can also send automated appointment reminders at set intervals to reduce the frequency of no-shows.

Use Case 2: Patient Onboarding

A chatbot can walk new patients through onboarding paperwork in advance, speeding up check-in the day of the appointment.

If patients are considering a procedure, the chatbot can offer videos and other educational resources. Patients take in this information at their own pace and ask questions as they go — something that’s not always possible during an appointment. The chatbot clarifies anything they didn’t understand so they can make informed decisions.

Use Case 3: Provider Search

A chatbot can help connect your patients with nearby ancillary services like a pharmacy or lab to supplement the care they receive from you.

Use Case 4: Prescription Management

Engaging with healthcare chatbots can improve patient outcomes. Your chatbot can send patients reminders when it’s time to take their medicine or refill their prescription.

If they have questions about medication side effects or dosage, patients can get information directly from the bot.

Use Case 5: Pre-Procedure and Post-Procedure Guidance

A chatbot can help your patients follow appropriate protocols before and after medical procedures.

For example, it can text them 12 hours before a procedure to remind them to begin their fast. Or it can message them the day after a procedure and remind them to stay out of the sun.

Use Case 6: Symptoms FAQs

Googling symptoms can lead your patients down a dangerous path of misinformation.

A chatbot can’t make a diagnosis, but it can answer questions with few variables — like whether nausea is a side effect of a medication.

Healthcare chatbots know when a patient’s questions are beyond its ability to answer. Depending on the circumstances, it can transfer a patient to a clinician, schedule an appointment, or advise the patient to head to the emergency room.

Use Case 7: Insurance Claims

Insurance is complicated, stressful, and difficult to understand. A chatbot can guide a patient through the process, helping them understand what is covered by their insurance and how to file or dispute a claim.

Use Case 8: Education

A survey by Consumer Reports found 35% of chatbot users ask the AI to explain something they don’t understand. In the same survey, 35% said they would rather get an answer from a chatbot than search for one online.

Chatbots offer reliable, verified content to help patients understand diagnoses and treatments. And unlike a search engine, they can answer any new questions that come up.

Use Case 9: Gathering Feedback

The best way to continuously improve your patients’ experience is to gather customer feedback.

A chatbot can reach out to patients at set intervals to see how they’re doing, gather feedback on their experience, and encourage them to leave a review.

Use Case 10: Disease Management

A chatbot-managed text flow can help patients dealing with chronic illnesses to manage their symptoms.

Like a virtual caseworker, it can reach out at set times with reminders to stay accountable to healthy lifestyle changes. For example, a chatbot might periodically text patients with hypertensive retinopathy to remind them to exercise.

Use Case 11: Records Access

Sometimes a patient needs quick access to their medical records in order to share them with an insurer or another provider.

Chatbots can be programmed to verify the requester’s identity and release specific information through a patient portal in the EHR.

Use Case 12: Forms

If a patient abandons a partially completed form, a chatbot can help them finish it. The bot can explain the information being requested and why it’s necessary.

Use Case 13: Abandoned Carts

There are lots of reasons online consumers abandon a shopping cart. A chatbot can reach out to those users and ask if they still want the items in their cart.

The bot can navigate concerns like insurance or questions about the products and help the shopper complete the transaction.

Can ChatGPT Summarize Medical Reports?

Generic generative AI like ChatGPT may be able to summarize medical data. However, its lack of healthcare-specific training increases the risk of hallucinations. Plus, ChatGPT isn’t equipped to understand or safeguard PII.

Healthcare AI like the tools being developed at Nextech is another story. We’re developing a tool that can record a medical appointment directly into the EHR, then parse through the conversation to create a detailed and accurate medical summary.

With this virtual scribe, clinicians can automatically complete their charting without ever taking their eyes off their patient.

The Future of Healthcare Chatbots

There’s no question chatbots will continue to fill administrative and customer service roles in healthcare. The public has embraced the technology, so we can expect to see chatbots playing a bigger part in patient engagement.

Gartner predicts search engine volume will drop between 2024 and 2026 as people turn to chatbots with their questions. If they use reliable, well-trained chatbots designed for healthcare applications, this could yield a net win in the fight against misinformation.

That said, don’t expect to see ChatGPT replacing doctors and nurses anytime in the near future. Medicine is too nuanced and complex. Chatbots, however well trained, cannot replace the diagnostic skills and intuition of licensed clinicians.

Want to see what else Nextech has in store? Schedule a demo.