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8 November 2023

ChatBot is a patient validation tool that checks in on the health status of patients via telephone who are either waiting for surgery or waiting to be seen in an outpatient clinic. 

ChatBot is saving money and reducing waiting lists for patients waiting for surgery in Lancashire and South Cumbria says an evaluation report with Health Innovation North West Coast.

ChatBot is a patient validation tool that checks in on the health status of patients via telephone who are either waiting for surgery or waiting to be seen in an outpatient clinic. It increases the number of conversations providers can have with patients, keeping waiting lists updated and reducing the number of staff needed to manually call patients, opening up savings that could be redirected elsewhere. But the Lancashire and South Cumbria Provider Collaborative Board (PCB) needed evidence that it was receiving positive returns on investment.

Health Innovation NWC assisted the PCB with an evaluation of ChatBot use as a cost saver. Even though the sample size was small and short term, it indicated that chatbots were saving the PCB £1.88 per patient, with an annual savings for the ICB of £47,015. The report concluded that “modelling results indicate substantial savings for the local system if the chatbot is deployed at scale to replace manual waiting list validation in appropriate patients”.

Alison Marsh, associate director, elective recovery, for the PCB, said: “It’s important to prove that new AI tools work and to continually gather evidence and evaluate them, even if the tool is simple and the sample is small. It’s great to know that the ChatBot is saving us money.”

Laura Boland, Head of Innovation Pipeline, Evaluation and Insights, at Health Innovation NWC said: “We were happy to help Lancashire and South Cumbria PCB provide evidence of the value of chatbots to help them continue their AI journey. These new tools need to help organisations meet their top priorities, such as reducing waiting lists, and it’s imperative that these tools provide a return on investment to the NHS. The voice chatbot is only the first step on the road to more advanced automation and more efficient waiting list management.”

Lancashire and South Cumbria PCB is exploring the use of other patient validation and advice and guidance tools to reduce costs and support patients waiting for care. You can read about the ICB’s priorities here: Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board: Elective recovery

Read the chatbot evaluation in full: ICS Waiting List - Resource Impact Evaluation of Chatbot

Contact Laura Boland for a discussion on how to evaluate the effectiveness of the early adoption of innovation, including the use of AI tools.

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