The advent of artificial intelligence (AI) — once discussed in concept but with few practical applications — is now a reality in practically every aspect of today’s world. Name an industry, and you can be sure that AI applications play a part in its operations. The use of AI is one of the fastest-growing trends in marketing today. But from what I’ve seen as the president of a digital marketing agency that works in the health care and wellness sector, AI is having the biggest impact in health care marketing.
The proof is in the dollars: The national AI health care market is expected to reach $6.6 billion by 2021. Our reliance on AI to support our health care marketing programs has doubled in the past year alone.
Here are a few areas where we’re seeing the greatest usefulness of AI for health care marketing.
Predictive analytics is essentially the collective method of data mining, modeling that data and using it to make predictions about future outcomes. In a recent engagement with a leading urgent care group, our team used AI-based predictive analytics to determine the future cost of patient acquisition. The data was broken down further to identify patient types, the reason for their visit and referral source. Thanks to this AI model, we were able to establish a marketing plan with a precise return on investment (ROI) formula.
Some other practical applications where AI and predictive analytics can be effectively used in health care include:
• Predicting the viability of new offices and locations by partnering predictive analytics with local demographic data
• Predicting the availability of clinical trial participants in recruitment marketing campaigns
• Predicting staffing needs by monitoring patient visit trends to optimize marketing and operational ROI
If you’re just getting started with using predictive analytics, begin by organizing your datasets. Make sure that you’re working with one clean set of data so you can then begin to analyze patterns and trends. For example, you can analyze spikes in patient visits by town or time, or you can look at demographic trends to predict future behavior of certain demographic groups and develop marketing campaigns targeted to each demographic.
Speech Recognition Technology
Pilot projects for using voice assistants in health care systems have been underway for several years. Last year, for example, TechTarget reported that Boston Children’s Hospital had successfully tested speech recognition technology in three pilot programs where clinicians and nurses were able to use smart speakers in different hospital settings.
For health care professionals and providers, voice assistants could help with tasks such as conducting surveys and clinical trials and collecting feedback, all of which can help with patient retention and creating more impactful recruitment campaigns. But is such technology safe and secure? In other words, is it compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)?
In April, Amazon Alexa became fully HIPAA compliant, “meaning it can work with health developers that manage protected health information,” reports CNBC.
Additionally, the company worked with partners — as diverse as Boston Children’s Hospital and insurance provider Cigna — to develop six new health care skills. According to CNBC, consumers will be able to use these skills “to ask questions such as ‘Alexa, pull up my blood glucose readings’ or ‘Alexa, find me a doctor,’ and receive a prompt response from the voice assistant.”
Right now, Amazon Alexa’s HIPAA-eligible environment is only available to select skill developers, but in the future, other health care marketers and providers may be able to offer Alexa skills to better connect with current and potential patients. To leverage this growing trend once it’s available, think of how you can be of more use in your patients’ journeys.
You also can prepare for patients who use voice assistants to search the web by adding helpful, conversational, SEO-friendly content to your website now.
One of the more one-on-one applications of AI technology is the chatbot. Chatbots can help health care marketers by creating more on-website engagement and encouraging conversion, or by directing potential patients to answers online, thereby improving the overall patient experience.
One research firm predicted in 2017 “that the success rate of bot interactions in the healthcare sector (those completed without relocation to a human operator) will move from 12% currently, to over 75% in 2022.”
Last year, Boston Children’s Hospital embarked on what’s been called “a learning partnership” with an online AI-powered health care chatbot. “The eventual goal is to have a chatbot that is less of a medical generalist and more of a specialist in a variety of different areas. For Boston Children’s, the partnership is a vehicle to get the hospital’s pediatric expertise out of the Boston area and into the world,” reports MobiHealthNews.
Clinics can follow a similar strategy by using chatbots to answer commonly asked questions, contributing to patient engagement and website traffic.
In determining whether a chatbot is right for you, evaluate your patients’ journey, their needs and their questions. Quite often, there are FAQs that can easily be addressed by a chatbot on your website or via Facebook Messenger.
While there’s still much work and research to be done in AI and many privacy issues and guidelines to explore, the health care industry seems to be quickly keeping up. Using AI can allow health care systems, clinics and providers to create an engaging, seamless interaction with their patients.