Chatbots are mobile, text-based conversational AI apps designed for specific applications, such as providing support for medical patients. Oakland, California-based Lifelink reports that Yelp rankings indicate that hospitals fall below most other service industries; 65% of patients are dissatisfied with their hospital’s engagement with them. Lifelink proposes chatbots as a solution for poor hospital-patient engagement, a misfire that can lead to low patient adherence and poor treatment outcomes.

Lifelink and Banner Health have announced the successful deployment of virtual waiting rooms for remote and in-person appointments. The Banner Health nonprofit medical group is a network of 1,500 physicians in 300 clinics in California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada, and Wyoming. Banner Health currently serves more than one million patients.

The Lifelink chatbots interact with Banner Health patients on their mobile devices using text messaging. The chatbots will welcome patients to their appointments and help with intake form completion and approvals. They will also provide details about telehealth technology instructions, direct patients when and where to report to examination rooms, and provide appointment reminders and updates.

In addition to providing much-needed patient engagement, Lifelink and Banner Health also position virtual waiting room chatbots as a way to reduce person-to-person contact during the COIVD-19 pandemic.

Using chatbots in place of humans in order to improve engagement may seem like a step away from real interaction. In the case of over-burdened health care facilities, however, a tireless, informed, and helpful chatbot is better than the current low-levels of engagement with clinical staff.