Healthcare chatbots using AI likely to replace your telephone receptionist

Linsey Barber published an article in CITY AM last week entitled “Chatbots could save firms £8bn a year by 2020… with banking and healthcare expected to be the biggest sectors to benefit”.

Too many people underestimate the profound impact we’ll feel from automation. Many of us aren’t remotely aware that the jobs we do will not exist ten to twenty years from now.

According to an Oxford University study from 2013, robots could replace up to half of the US workforce within the next decade. PwC found that 30% of jobs in Britain are potentially under threat from breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI).

Education, health and social care are sectors seen to be least threatened by robots because of the high proportion of tasks perceived as ‘hard to automate’. Doctors, surgeons, audiologists, nurses, psychologists, prosthetic makers and occupational therapists are among the 200 middle-class jobs least likely to be lost to automation.

However, there are some jobs in healthcare that are firmly in the cross-hairs. According to BBC news, telephone salespersons, for example, is the occupation most likely to be automated (1st out of 366) with a 99% chance.

Healthcare chatbots being tested for NHS patients

What will replace them? Many say ‘bots’. Programmers can configure bots to respond to customer queries or advise patients on symptoms using automated messages. Investors have injected £50 million into UK startup Babylon who is testing out using healthcare chatbots for patients as an alternative option to calling the NHS non-emergency 111 number. This is happening now, whether we like it or not.

We’ve played around with bots for recreational purposes. Most iPhone users have tried Siri. Some use home assistance services like Google Home, Amazon Alexa or Amazon Echo. Their effectiveness, while sometimes humorous and surprising, isn’t quite business-ready. However, many bot programmers suggest that bot effectiveness will increase dramatically and that they won’t need any human input to perform 75% of interactions in healthcare by 2020.

This is extraordinary. Consider the implications. Many call centre jobs will be entirely phased out in only ten to twenty years. Many medical secretaries will no longer have any telephone handling duties (likely much to their relief!) Sadly for them, 85% of their tasks will also be automated too. You might recall a recent article we published on this blog with regards to turning your website into a 24/7 receptionist with online scheduling software. This is happening, whether we like the idea or not.

If you do telephone sales and are working in private healthcare, what can you do?

Roles requiring abilities like:

  • thinking on your feet
  • being creative
  • demonstrating empathy
  • demonstrating emotional intelligence
  • using negotiating skills

hold a significant advantage to telemarketing or telephone reception jobs that are scripted or do not require a high degree of social intelligence. Encouraging your employer to arrange training for you to develop and hone these skills is crucial to remain employed into the 2020s.

In 10 to 20 years, we predict that only people with the above-mentioned skills will be employed in the telephone sales jobs that remain. Business sales executives, for example, have a much smaller chance of being automated (only 39.3% v the 99% chance of automation that we saw above for general salespersons).

Healthcare chatbots will take over duties that are repetitive and memorisation based. If you think about the poor customer service levels and lack of empathy you sometimes feel from a highly scripted telephone salesperson, then it is not surprising that these roles could be easily automated. The key is to focus on excelling at sales work that cannot be automated.

Companies with high investment products and services (e.g. premium) that take a consultative approach to sales will likely require some skilled salespeople. Smart salespeople will get the training they need to stay ahead of the bots, or the changing economy will insist they find another line of work.

(NOTE: The best way to answer that nagging question about practice growth or marketing or patient volume in the back of your mind is to book a free 15-minute compatibility call. Get some options and go away with a clear idea of what’s possible.

About the author

Rod Solar
Founder & Fractional CMO

Rod co-founded LiveseySolar and acts as a Fractional CMO for our customers. He’s on a mission to help transform the lives of 10,000 people through vision correction surgery by 2024. To achieve that, he inspires his customers to make confident decisions that will help 50,000 people take the first step towards vision correction.

Get your Practice Marketing Score

Take our FREE “Practice Marketing” quiz. Get your score and benchmark yourself to practices around the world.

GET YOUR SCORE

Find articles on:

What our clients say…

“In a matter of weeks, we already saw results with LiveseySolar. Far before we were even finished with our project.”

Erik Chotiner, MD, FACS, Ophthalmologist

“The whole group has been very, very professional. We’re quite early in the stages, but we can see the benefits.”

Dr Nick Mantell , MBChB FRANZCO

“They’re very professional. They know what they’re doing, but they also put us at ease. This helped us to cut through what’s needed to get what we want.”

Mr Praveen Patel, MA (Cantab), MB BChir (Cantab), FRCOphth, MD (Res)

“It’s wonderful to work with an agency that engages on our level and understands our market.”

Dr Anton Van Heerden, MBChB; FRANZCO, Ophthalmologist

Get your Practice Marketing Score

Take our FREE “Practice Marketing” quiz. Get your score and benchmark yourself to practices around the world.

Get your score

Related Posts

Meet our Founders

We’re passionate about helping leaders of high-quality, growth-minded practice owners double their revenue

Rod Solar

Founder & Fractional CMO

Rod co-founded LiveseySolar and acts as a Fractional CMO for our customers. He’s on a mission to help transform the lives of 10,000 people with vision correction surgery by 2024. To achieve that, he inspires his customers to make confident decisions that will help 50,000 people take the first step towards vision correction.

Read more

LiveseySolar completely transformed the way we were approaching this… We’ve gone from having just the dream of having a practice to having a practice up and running with people making inquiries and booking for procedures… It’s extremely pleasing. We feel lucky we connected with LiveseySolar.

— Dr Matthew Russell, MBChB, FRANZCO, specialist ophthalmic surgeon and founder of VSON and OKKO

Laura Livesey

Founder & CEO

Laura Livesey is the co-founder & CEO of LiveseySolar. She has developed powerful refractive surgery marketing systems that increase patient volumes and profits for doctors, clinics, and hospitals, since 1997.

Read more

Rod and Laura know as much about marketing surgery to patients as I know about performing it. They are an expert in the field of laser eye surgery marketing. They know this industry inside out. I believe that they could help many companies in a variety of areas including marketing materials, sales training and marketing support for doctors.

— Prof. Dan Reinstein, MD MA FRSC DABO, founder of the London Vision Clinic, UK