by Vagelis H. 06/29/2020
Many healthcare providers compete for patients and employ extensive marketing strategies to achieve their goal. The goal typically is to convert someone to a customer, which usually means making an appointment with this patient. Making an appointment or selling a product or service are considered “direct conversions” whereas collecting the email or phone number for follow-up communication is considered “lead collection.”
Traditional healthcare marketing involves advertising the provider in digital (or print) media, where the phone number and website are listed. In the last few years, AI has disrupted most industries including healthcare marketing. Specifically, providers have been adding chatbots on their web sites (and sometimes on their Facebook pages) to offer a more interactive experience to the patients who are looking for instant information and transactions.
These bots typically collect information on leads (potential customers/patients), give them some information on a practice’s services or make an appointment. Such bots are more popular in out-of-pocket specialties, such as dentists, chiropractors, plastic surgeons or physical therapy, which are the specialties that invest more in marketing. A key intuition here is that as patients search for services on Google, if a practice’s website has a chatbot that can engage the patient 24x7, it will make it more likely to attract this patient, especially in the case of millenials, where instant gratification is key.
Adding a chatbot to the website is trickier in healthcare, as HIPAA-compliance is of critical importance, so a HIPAA-compliant chatbot should be selected.
Practices have found that by adding a chatbot they can increase the number of patient conversions by about 20%. In many cases, the chatbot can be the connecting glue of a larger marketing pipeline as shown in the above picture.
SEO and digital marketing are employed to bring traffic to the website that hosts the chatbot. It is possible to track the users that come from sources like paid Google or Facebook ads using Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel. However, one has to be careful not to violate HIPAA by sharing sensitive patient data with these services. One should have no expectation that Google Analytics or Facebook Pixel will protect their data, so if one decides to still use these services he/she is responsible to make sure that no PHI is directly or indirectly submitted to these services. The way that SmartBot360 decided to walk this thin line, is to offer integration of its chatbots with Facebook Pixel and Google Analytics, but display clear warnings of the potential HIPAA implications of using them, both inside the SmartBot360 Management Dashboard (where the chatbots are created) and in the BAA.
Once a patient starts interacting with the chatbot, the ideal scenario is that the patient makes an appointment, which SmartBot360 achieves through integration with Acuity Scheduling. Alternatively, the chatbot can just collect the patient contact information and a staff member can follow up to close the appointment. Square can be used for payments for goods and services.
If the patient is not ready to commit to an appointment, the contact information of the lead is still valuable. SmartBot360 integrates with most popular CRM systems to create contacts and notify sales agents to follow-up. Another strategy is to have the chatbot automatically schedule follow-up chatbots to nurture the lead. For example, a dentist chatbot can schedule monthly chatbots to check the dental health of a patient.