AI Chatbots Improving Mental Health Support in Telehealth Training

By April Miller, Senior Writer,
LinkedIn: April Miller
X: @rehackmagazine

Telehealth is on the rise, but most medical professionals are overwhelmed with their current workloads and aren’t prepared to take on additional training. This is where artificial intelligence chatbots come in — they could ease the burden while improving their sessions’ effectiveness.

Why Should Hospitals Choose to Use AI Chatbots?

The health care sector has expressed a serious interest in AI adoption, despite it being a relatively new development. According to a survey from the American Medical Association, 41% of physicians agree its potential is exciting. It seems the promise of cutting-edge capabilities outweighs hospitals’ general wariness about embracing emerging technologies.

These physicians’ excitement is understandable, given AI’s autonomy and automation-related abilities. Unlike a human coach, it can work with multiple medical providers simultaneously during telehealth training, making the approach significantly more cost-effective and efficient.

Since AI is incapable of human error, integrating it can improve process accuracy drastically. For example, one California-based hospital lowered its error rate from 20% to zero percent and reduced delays by up to two hours after partnering with an automation vendor to develop an autonomous system.

Another one of this technology’s major benefits involves adaptation. Machine learning models can evolve over time. Vendors can automatically update their algorithms as new trends emerge by feeding it real-time data, meaning this solution is all but future-proof — it won’t become outdated like print manuals.

Why Using Chatbots for Telehealth Training Is Beneficial

In the past decade, telehealth’s popularity has exploded. Now, 76% of United-States-based hospitals offer it to some extent. It’s become the go-to for rural areas in health care deserts and has been a novel accessibility solution.

Data suggests telehealth’s popularity will continue rising — people need rapid support now more than ever. For instance, higher education students’ anxiety and depression levels are at a historic high, with most meeting the criteria for at least one mental health condition. As more people choose remote over in-person visits, hospitals’ flexibility grows increasingly important.

While health care facilities could use robot process automation, scripts or software, those solutions have limited applications and require ongoing oversight and maintenance. Autonomy sets the AI chatbot apart from other automation technologies — if it comes across an interaction it hasn’t trained on or encountered before, it can still generate a response.

Of course, affordability is another key benefit of leveraging a chatbot. Real-world applications prove it’s a cost-effective solution. For instance, organizations save up to 30% on customer service expenses when implementing one. Hospitals stand to save on labor spending.

Using chatbots for mental health support in telehealth training is beneficial because they need little to no human intervention, are relatively inexpensive and are easy to source from third-party vendors. These out-of-the-box solutions can be purpose-built for specific hospitals’ needs.

How They Improve Mental Health Support During Training

You can use AI chatbots to improve mental-health-related telehealth training, making your sessions more effective, relevant and impactful.

1. Personalized Progress

A few years ago, chatbots could only retain a single session. Now, models like ChatGPT can recall details from previous conversations, proving this technology is useful for training. You can use this feature to tailor ongoing telehealth courses individually based on technical expertise, subject knowledge and digital communication skills.

2. Immersive Roleplaying

While hands-on learning is often the most effective, you probably don’t have time to act out narratives. This is where AI chatbots come in — they can take on the persona of someone with depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, roleplaying a likely scenario based on training data and user prompts.

If you allow patients to opt in to data collection with an electronic signature or pop-up checkboxes, you can feed their audio transcripts to your algorithm. This way, you ensure your simulated sessions are accurate, lifelike and relevant, making training more effective. Since machine learning algorithms learn autonomously, the process would be mostly hands-off.

3. Cultural Competence

According to one self-assessment, 98.7% of medical professionals agree their knowledge of some cultural groups is limited and they’d like to learn more. An AI chatbot could adopt various personas, depending on whether training covers generational, situational, ethnic or language barriers. This way, you can ensure your cultural competence is adequate.

How They Provide Mental Health Support During Training

AI chatbots can provide optimal mental health support during telehealth training, making the experience more user-friendly, convenient and stress-free. Their automation capabilities can ease the burden.

1. Burnout Prevention

Anyone who works in or with hospitals knows burnout is a common pain point. In 2022, 46% of health care workers reported they felt burned out often — up from 32% in 2018. With telehealth’s popularity climbing, training is essential, but it adds to professionals’ workloads.

AI chatbots can help prevent burnout during training by pacing sessions based on individuals’ mental well-being and current workload. Using self-assessments, these models can gauge their capabilities and limitations to provide support.

2. Technical Walkthroughs

Bots trained on telehealth tools and remote patient interactions can tailor walkthroughs to trainees’ technical knowledge and learning style, accelerating the process. This way, it lightens their workload, makes sessions more user-friendly and decreases the number of emails sent to the IT team.

3. Non-Biased Feedback

Automated chatbots can provide personalized feedback to users as they complete each session. If its training data was vetted, cleaned and processed correctly, its insights would be non-biased and data-driven. Trainees benefit from an accurate overview of their strengths and weaknesses since it can accelerate training and highlight their achievements.

Utilizing AI Chatbot Technology to Its Full Potential

AI chatbots perform at their peak when properly trained, managed and implemented. Hospitals should work closely with business-to-business vendors to ensure deployment is smooth and trainees are receptive. This way, they can maximize its impact and their return on investment.