Pioneering Mobile Technology to Serve as “Virtual Assistants” at 28 ERs, Supporting More than 1 Million Patient Visits per Year
LifeLink today announced the successful deployment of advanced chatbot technology at Banner Health that interacts with Emergency Department (ED) patients on their mobile phones using simple, text-based messaging. Powered by LifeLink technology, the conversational chatbots keep patients informed about their ED visits, provide lab status, and answer common questions—in English and Spanish.
Banner Health is one of the largest health systems in the country. Headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, Banner runs a network of 28 hospitals, including three academic medical centers, across six states. More than 1 million patients visit Banner emergency rooms each year.
“While EDs are a major entry point into most medical centers, they are also historically the source of low patient satisfaction which can impact perceptions of the entire hospital,” said Jeff Johnson, Vice President, Digital Business at Banner Health. “Mobile chatbots augment the interactions between patients and our staff by providing personalized information about the individual’s care experience—at scale. The majority of our ED patients have embraced the bots and are rating the experience very high.”
The Banner conversational chatbot experience begins when the patient checks into the emergency department. Patients who choose to receive updates on their mobile phones get a one-click activation text message to establish a secure HIPAA-compliant connection to the chatbot. As the treatment process unfolds, the chatbot automatically provides updates and information to patients through conversational messaging, similar to the way people text friends. The bots are engaging in about 8 separate conversations (interactions) per patient, per visit to Banner EDs.
“The chatbots are improving the patient experience in the ED, but it won’t end there. The bots stay with the patient after they have been discharged, which allows us to help direct them into other areas of the Banner Health network,” said Jeff Johnson, Vice President, Digital Business at Banner Health.
The LifeLink chatbot solution is integrated with Banner’s Cerner EMR system, which enables the seamless flow of real-time, personalized updates about wait times, lab results, and next steps. The patient interaction and feedback data collected by the chatbot allows hospital care teams to monitor satisfaction feedback, spot trends, and identify opportunities to improve the patient experience not just in the ED but in a range of other digital patient engagement scenarios.
“Patient engagement is a major trend in healthcare because reimbursement models are changing and patients have more say in how they spend their healthcare dollars,” noted Greg Johnsen, CEO of LifeLink. “The healthcare industry has struggled to innovate effectively in the ED especially because it’s such a challenging environment, but now Banner is showing how it can be done very effectively at one of the nation’s biggest hospital systems.”
The value of conversational technology goes beyond improving patient experience. Banner has seen the resulting improved customer satisfaction translate into higher Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and potential performance improvements against regulatory benchmarks such as MIPS, HCAHPS, ED-CAHPS, and HRRP.