How to choose an agency to set up a chatbot

“Chatbot” is just one of many terms for the combination of artificial intelligence and language. Some of the different names for automated interlocutors like this: intelligent assistant, virtual assistant, digital assistant, personal digital assistant, chatbot, bot and metabot. To better understand the potential application in your healthcare facility, it’s useful to know the difference between a virtual assistant, chatbot, and a metabot.

Virtual or Digital Assistant

The term virtual assistant (or digital/virtual agent) is used for the more developed solutions. The purpose of this is service, the core competence is knowledge management. They are deployed on both websites and smartphones. Some are integrated into apps. They can respond to typed or spoken text. The main feature of the virtual assistant is the natural handling and understanding of language, so that the user in the same way can communicate if he would do with a natural person. This is called natural language processing.

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A more advanced digital assistant also has pattern recognition, which helps to increase customer/user knowledge. Even more advanced solutions use deep learning, allowing systems to learn on their own. It can also sometimes scan the information on the website and suggest possible answers to questions if new content is needed. Would you like to link your information to people knowledge in a secure environment? Then, with a well-developed assistant, this is also possible. With a digital assistant, as an organization, you can get an instant insight into customer demands, quickly respond to needs, and improve your processes. The beauty of this process is that the customer knowledge is continuously growing.

A thorough database is crucial for a well-functioning digital assistant. There has to be one content database, with questions and answers. Maintaining this database, collecting, organizing and editing knowledge is also essential. These advanced capabilities make a good virtual assistant labor and cost intensive.

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The cheaper variant of automated interlocutors is usually called bots or chatbots. Their uses are more modest than those of the virtual assistant. As a result, development costs are lower and time-to-market faster, but how good are they?

From a simple (pop-up) screen and with very limited content, these bots can be highly effective if well designed. They can serve information in bite-sized chunks. Great for easy information provision, for a limited number of questions or giving choices.

For questions that require greater problem solving power, it is better to use a more advanced solution choose. With a chatbot, you can quickly run into boundaries, or you have to spend a lot more development hours to develop the software further.


Finally, there are so-called metabots: such as Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, Bixby, and Cortana. Every major developer (Apple, Google, Amazon, Samsung and Microsoft respectively) has their own voice solution. These applications are mainly based on voice text and represent a next step in the evolution of the user interface. These solutions can be used in conjunction with a chatbot or virtual assistant. At the moment, it’s the best applications for voice-driven information requests.

Digital Assistant in Healthcare?

Developing a simple chatbot isn’t complicated anymore, but is it the right choice for a healthcare institution? Because more important than the technique is the content, or knowledge management of the information you want to unlock through the technology. A healthcare institution wants to provide information to patients in an easily accessible way.

Working with a digital assistant allows you to build and improve a knowledge database. For hospitals, for example, this involves complex information about different specializations, from various studies, treatments and nowadays also choice awards. The content consists of text, image, video. Collecting and managing this content is a labor-intensive process. You want a solution that employees can work with easily.

You would also like to be able to monitor the conversation with your patients. Are all questions answered correctly? Which questions are asked the most? Is the patients getting stuck in the search for information?

Investing in building a chatbot yourself seems interesting in the short term. You can have a limited number of questions answered by the relatively simple extra. add chatbot functionalities to an existing website or web app.

Budget and Ambition

In short, if you want a simple solution to a limited set of questions — for example, because you want to do research and require you to switch to another website or app solution in the near future — a chatbot is useful. Ultimately, such a chatbot can be developed into a digital or virtual assistant, so the question is what time you want to provide the online service.

Do you have the time and budget to spend development hours in developing the software, natural language processing and, or deep learning? Do you have a small organization and don’t need a good dashboard and user-friendly content management system? Or do you have a large organization and a big budget and specific focus on online, which makes you want to innovate yourself? Then developing a chatbot can be a fine choice. Make sure that it’s easy to export the content to another system.

Most healthcare institutions are knowledge-intensive and you want to be able to unlock that knowledge online through different ways. That knowledge should be managed ultimately, preferably by the communication or patient contact department. Investing in a digital assistant, in other words a knowledge management system with a user-friendly user interface, is therefore a logical choice for many major healthcare institutions.

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