Nearly three quarters of mental health facilities — 73% — increased their online support tools in 2022 to meet increased demand for mental health support during the pandemic, and 89% acknowledge that chatbots make it easier for patients to access the treatment they need. That’s according to a new study published today by Botco.ai, the leading HIPAA-compliant conversational marketing platform. Titled “The State of Conversational Automation and Access to Mental Health Services” and based on surveys with 120 executives at mental health facilities, behavioral health organizations, addiction treatment providers, and rehabilitation centers, the report illuminates the ways healthcare providers have leveraged conversational automation tools to satisfy changing consumer behaviors and evolving patient needs during and since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Key findings from the report include:
- Mental health worsened disproportionately: Approximately 41% of respondents believe that the pandemic has made it harder for people in general to access mental health treatment. 55% said that the pandemic has made it harder for African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans and LGBTQ+ individuals to access mental health services.
- Minority groups’ mental health needs increased: Women seeking requests for mental health treatment increased according to 65% of respondents, and there was a noticeable uptick in demand for treatment from other minority groups: African Americans (40%), Hispanics (39%), Asian Americans (20%), LGBTQ+ individuals (35%), and Native Americans (15%).
- Digital channels empower facility discovery: 49% of patients and their families learned about their chosen treatment facilities online using website tools like chatbots, much more frequently than through word of mouth (25%), doctor recommendations (19%), or advertisements (7%).
- Chatbots are already popular patient tools: 61% of respondents said that their organizations already had conversational AI tools in place on their websites to answer questions from prospective patients or their families.
- AI Chat is perfectly positioned to answer FAQs: The most common topics patients and their families broach before enrolling in treatment include cost (68%), insurance coverage (60%), duration of treatment (46%), available types of treatment (43%), and payment options (41%). These are all questions that automated chatbots are designed to answer, providing patients with the support they need without requiring additional employee effort.
- Conversational AI eases the pathways to treatment: The overwhelming majority of respondents — 89% — said that automated chat tools make it easier for patients to access the mental health treatment they need. 76% confirmed that they used technology for patient coordination and intake, and 83% acknowledged that their facilities verify insurance benefits online.
“Chatbots don’t just enable healthcare providers to expand their capabilities and improve efficiencies, they also do the important work of leveling the playing field for all individuals seeking mental health treatment,” said Rebecca Clyde, CEO of Botco.ai. “While the pandemic created a mental health crisis across the board, it disproportionately impacted women, African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. The data in this report shows how chatbots were instrumental in increasing access to mental health services for the people that needed it most during the pandemic. The facilities and providers that have continued to use conversational automation tools in the months and years since have found it easier to provide prospective patients and their families with the support they need when it’s most important.”
Botco.ai is a HIPPA-compliant, AI-powered conversational marketing cloud solution that can be implemented at scale to improve engagement rates. Today, the company offers industry-leading authoring, webchat, and AI machine-learning capabilities to quickly and effectively convert more customers in healthcare, wellness, addiction, behavioral health, physical therapy, and senior living centers. Botco.ai’s Integrated Analytics Dashboard provides a comprehensive view of chat campaigns across multiple messaging channels such as web and Facebook Messenger. The API-based interface can be used to transfer leads, transcripts, and data into enterprise sales and marketing automation products like Salesforce, Hubspot, Adobe Marketing Cloud, Zoho as well as leading EHR and scheduling systems. Botco.ai is the recipient of the Arizona Innovation Challenge “Most Outstanding Startup” award and a graduate of Alchemist Accelerator Class XXV, the #1 accelerator for enterprise startups.