The growing role of healthcare live chat


Notice: due to COVID-19, we are now providing free access to our HIPAA-ready live chat software until July 1, 2020. This offer extends to any healthcare organisation that needs it. Contact us to get a complementary account.


Healthcare is a rapidly transforming industry. Once dominated by physical paperwork and manual administration, healthcare and pharmaceutical organisations are under pressure to streamline.

As part of this digitisation journey, healthcare live chat is on the rise. Chat is providing a valuable (and ever-more popular) online support option. One that’s equally handy for patient care and for communication between healthcare professionals alike.

Here, we explore the growing role of healthcare live chat. What does chat have to offer the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry?


The rise of live chat in healthcare

Live chat software has a rich history, reaching back to the 1970s. Between its early days and the present, it’s risen to become a necessity for businesses. And, not content with sticking to retail, it’s branching out.

Which brings us to healthcare live chat. Our world has grown increasingly online — and healthcare has followed suit.

For instance, 77% of patients think that the ability to manage their appointments online is important. And, if they need a helping hand, live chat software is a great way to quickly get back on track.

Plus, satisfaction rates for live chat in healthcare sit at a healthy 92.9%. (Second only to the transportation industry at 93.2%.)

So, it’s clear that there’s a growing role — and preference— for healthcare live chat. But why?


Quick and convenient

We’ve all looked up our symptoms or searched online for advice after hurting ourselves. In fact, 5% of Google searches relate to health.

Healthcare live chat means patients can ask healthcare questions when it suits them, and get answers right away. Better yet, those answers come from a trained professional and not from a search engine.

Maybe the patient has a question about an upcoming appointment. Or, maybe it’s a query about medication. Healthcare live chat provides a quick-fire way to quell concerns (and state when it’s time to make a GP appointment) about medical problems.

Plus, this stands to reduce the strain on healthcare professionals (HCPs). Chat users can get answers about the best way to follow up on their health concerns — rather than making appointments they don’t need. This online-first approach to seeking medical advice can even help prevent the spread of contagious diseases.


Accessibility

Healthcare live chat also serves to boost accessibility. Beyond making information easier to find, live chat software caters to different levels of ability.

For example, some people may suffer from a physical disability that makes getting the care they need harder. For instance, a speech impediment could make talking on the phone difficult. Or, someone with a painful flare-up or difficulty moving could struggle to reach a physical location.

Healthcare live chat improves accessibility to advice for these people. They don’t need to talk or make their way to you. They can simply type from the comfort of their own space.  

Another accessibility hurdle is language. But live chat software can use two-way translation, with messages smoothly translated back and forth between participants. So, healthcare live chat connects a multilingual mix of patients and HCPs, in real-time.


Empowering healthcare professionals

It’s not only patients who benefit from healthcare live chat. It also empowers HCPs. For those working in healthcare, chat represents a faster and more efficient way to communicate. And, in an industry with an average of just 2.6 doctors per 1000 patients, this efficiency should not be undervalued.

For example, with canned responses, HCPs can send a concerned patient lengthy info in a click. (Think side effect information, dosage instructions, how to reach the clinic, etc.)

Live chat software can empower HCPs during the more personalised healthcare chats, too. With CRM integration, they can pull medical information from customer records into the chat. This makes for personalised and relevant advice. Plus, with hybrid chat, a chatbot can find this needed information, when it’s needed, and whisper it to the HCP.


Collaborative

It’s much quicker and easier to type a reply to a chat and return to what you’re doing than drop everything to pick up the phone. It’s easier to collaborate in real-time than to wait hours or days for email replies.

Healthcare live chat means there’s no longer a need to rely on disruptive calls or slow email exchanges. Instead, HCPs like drug reps, doctors and nurses, can connect in real-time.

And, using live chat software instead of older channels doesn’t remove helpful functionality. For example, you can transfer files in a chat window. So, you can still exchange relevant documentation, without relying on email.

Plus, chat routing means that no matter why you need to chat, you’ll connect with the best best-placed HCP for your needs. (I.e. a patient connecting to an in-house specialist, or a drug rep connecting to the right doctor, etc.)


Flexible

Another reason for the growing role of healthcare live chat is its flexibility. Live chat software can come with a host of handy features and integrations.

Say, for instance, that a chat has grown more complex, or a chat user is getting confused. With omnichannel calling, it’s easy for a healthcare professional to escalate the chat into a call. They need only click a ‘call’ button from the chat conversation.  

Having a live chat channel also provides a home for a chatbot. This means that you could create a bot to automatically answer the routine, first-line queries.

There’s also the capacity for video chat. If text-based communication isn’t enough for your needs, you could swap to video chat. For instance, you could use this to provide demonstrations. Or, if a patient can’t get to the office, video chat gives them a way to receive a face-to-face consultation.


Security

Privacy is paramount in any industry, but privacy healthcare is particularly crucial. Medical records are highly sensitive. Healthcare live chat, then, needs to comply with strict industry HIPAA guidelines.

The easiest way to achieve this is to self-host chat, with an on-premises deployment. This is where you download, install and manage your own live chat channel. It lives as an internal application in your environment, behind your firewalls. So, sensitive data never touches a third-party server.

It’s also possible, however, to maintain compliance in the cloud. (Dependant on the chat vendor.) For example, we can host WhosOn in a HIPAA-ready server with our hosting partner, Microsoft Azure.

Beyond your hosting options, you’ll also want to make sure that your live chat channel uses secure connections and encryption. This way, you protect your healthcare conversations at every touchpoint.


Healthcare live chat

The healthcare industry is evolving. As we shift to an online-first approach to healthcare, new technologies are smoothing the disruption and driving new efficiencies.

And healthcare live chat is one such efficiency driver. Chat is making life easier for HCPs and patients alike. It caters to different needs, different preferences, and the online era.

It’s no wonder, then, that live chat software is growing in use in the healthcare industry. To join the growing trend and explore what chat software can do for you, speak to one of our expert consultants today.


Useful links

Accessible customer service: is your business open?

Hybrid chat: a feature dive

Omnichannel calling: a feature dive