A peer-reviewed journal that offers evidence-based clinical information and continuing education for dentists.

How Dental Patients Feel About Chatbots

Patient expectations for personalized service rank as a leading trend in dentistry, and many practices are turning to technology to help them deliver more personalized care.

Patient expectations for personalized service rank as a leading trend in dentistry, and many practices are turning to technology to help them deliver more personalized care. In the healthcare industry, dentistry has been one of the early adopters of tools such as artificial-intelligence chatbots that can engage patients online and answer common questions around the clock. But how do patients really feel about chatbots?

One measure of growing acceptance is that worldwide demand is soaring. According to one report, the chatbot market will triple in size in the next few years, increasing from $2.6 billion in 2019 to $9.4 billion by 2024.1 However, people still seem to prefer human interaction to talking to a machine. According to a recent survey, 43% of respondents indicated their preference for talking to a real person might preclude them from using a chatbot.2

Patients feelings about chatbots

That said, patients do appreciate these tools for quick answers when human conversation would be impractical, such as nights, weekends and holidays. In the survey, chatbots beat phone and email for quick answers, 24-hour service and sheer convenience.2

If what we know regarding patients’ generally positive feelings about chatbots holds true moving forward, this could be an effective tool for managing the flood of patient questions as state restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19 are lifted. Practices can anticipate working through a long backlog of delayed care and preventive services, and use of this technology would free staff from fielding inquiries that might best be handled by chatbots. Under this scenario, implementing a chatbot in practice might quickly shift from a luxury item to must-have technology.

REFERENCES

  1. Markets and Markets. Chatbot Market by Component (Solutions and Services), Usage (Websites and Contact Centers), Technology, Deployment Model, Application (Customer Support and Personal Assistant), Organization Size, Vertical, and Region — Global Forecast to 2024. Available at: http/​:/​/​www.marketsandmarkets.com/​Market-Reports/​smart-advisor-market-72302363.html. Accessed April 24, 2020.
  2. Markgraf P. Consumers see great value in chatbots but want human interaction. Available at: https:/​/​www.surveymonkey.com/​curiosity/​consumers-see-great-value-in-chatbots/​. Accessed April 24, 2020.

From Decisions in Dentistry. May 2020;6(5):46.

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