7 Ethical Use Cases for Pharmacy Chatbots

Medicine requires trust. Patients trust their doctor to make the right prescription and doctors trust pharmacists to prepare the appropriate dosages.

Online, this procedure is more challenging — it can be difficult for customers to distinguish between registered online pharmacies and commercial websites .

That’s why good communication is essential. Customers are accustomed to walk-in and drive-thru pharmacies where they interact with professional staff. Carrying this over onto your website will distinguish it from the spam sites looking to make a quick buck with no regard for the patient’s health.

Customer messaging software is the best solution, with the help of a chatbot assistant. Adding a bot seems like it would complicate relationships, but if used correctly, it can actually help build trust.

This post will cover the benefits of chatbots and how to use them, as well as the responsibility and ethics.

The appeal of pharmacy chatbots

Chatbots as a whole help bridge relationships with clients and customers by being available 24/7 and providing personalized help. Businesses use them to answer simple questions and take care of small tasks to alleviate agents — perhaps their biggest appeal, especially when it comes to medicine.

Take Walgreens’ pharmacy page for example:

Screenshot of Walgreens' pharmacy page on website

Instead of having multiple page options to fulfill simple requests like transferring a prescription or scheduling deliveries, a chatbot could handle these requests directly in the chat.

This saves customers having to navigate your website or request help from an agent.

A chatbot can immediately assist your customers when and where it’s most convenient for them. Customers using online pharmacies are likely doing it to save time and effort, or even out of necessity due to a disability or immobility.

If you use customer messaging software like Userlike , then you can offer your chatbot on the messaging channels your customers use most like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or SMS. This makes it easier for them to receive assistance and alerts without having to be on your website.

For more benefits of using a chatbot in healthcare, read our post, "7 ways to safely use a chatbot in healthcare."

Responsibilities and ethics to consider

Patients rely on prescriptions to be filled and available on time. Those with acute needs or preexisting conditions may be suspicious of automated assistance.

If you’re a diabetes patient, for example, ordering insulin via a chatbot may be a nervous experience at first. Customers may think, “Did the pharmacy receive my request or did it get lost in a digital void?”

It’s an understandable concern. According to the American Association of Retired Persons , one in nine U.S. adults buy prescriptions online, but as mentioned before, scam businesses make it difficult to know who to trust.

Chatbots can help communicate your site’s legitimacy and show transparency . You can greet customers with button options to view your licensing page and any other data privacy or policy pages.

For example, if you click “Privacy Policy” in the Userlike widget, it redirects the visitor to a page that explains our terms, privacy policy and data processing policy. We recommend plainly stating where the customer’s information is being stored and how it’s being used.

Screenshot of chatbot in Userlike on Shop Apotheke's website
Our customer, Shop Apotheke , uses its chatbot to share a brief message about data privacy and a link to the full statement.

You can also use a pharmacy chatbot to share links for your customers to search and confirm your site’s legitimacy on the FDA website or the official food and drug administration government service in your country.

As a best practice when using a chatbot, it should be easy for a customer to connect to an agent at any point in the chat. This avoids any frustration, especially if the customer has a sensitive question.

If it’s after service hours, customers can use the bot to submit a ticket or have their request forwarded to an agent for follow-up.

A combination of instant help from a chatbot and a direct connection to your agents shows that your website cares about the patient’s needs. It sets you apart from commercial websites that focus on the transaction and not the individual.

How you can use chatbots in pharmacies

Assist with prescriptions and refills

Customers can transfer prescriptions or request refills without speaking to an agent by leaving their Rx number and an email address, for example. The chatbot can then forward these requests to an agent for fulfillment.

Communicate prescription status

Using their reference number, a chatbot can quickly share the status of the customer’s prescription using an API integration to track customer order status information.

Screenshot of Bo chatbot on Hermes help page
Hermes connected its chatbot to Userlike’s API to help customers find their packages.

A chatbot can also let the customer know if their prescription has already been sent and an estimated arrival date or time.

Provide educational material about medicines

A chatbot can help answer any questions a customer may have about the ingredients and side effects for a specific medicine. While the bot should make it clear that it’s not a doctor, it can also help answer general health questions, as well as any FAQs.

You can even send helpful studies and research documents that the customer can download directly in the chat.

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Update profile information

Chatbots can take care of simple requests like updating a customer’s address, phone number, name, email, etc. This also makes it easier for agents to familiarize themselves with the customer when taking over chats.

Chatbots can also request documents for verification to be reviewed by an agent or specialist. This helps keep your database up-to-date.

Connect customer to an agent

Example image of a video call within Userlike

Forwarding to an agent should always be an available option, especially in healthcare. Userlike offers operator groups so the chatbot can handover the conversation to the appropriate person, reducing service time.

For emergencies or when face-to-face help is more ideal, Userlike offers video calling so the customer can visually meet with a pharmacist, for example.

Schedule in-person visits

A chatbot can help customers locate the closest pharmacy based on their zip code, or redirect them to a locations page. You can also use integrations, like a Zapier connection to Acuity Scheduling for example, to collect and maintain appointments.

Send medication reminders

If connected to a messaging app like WhatsApp, a chatbot can send push notifications to remind customers to take or order their medicine. It can also be used to keep track of the customer’s health progress and show helpful reports, charts and more to document their recovery and/or health results.

Create your own pharma chatbot with Userlike today

At Userlike , we offer a Logic Bot that is connected to our customer messaging solution. All customer conversations and chatbot controls are in one place so you can use your bot as an active member of your team.

It uses simple syntax so you can easily write scripts for every customer scenario, like fulfilling a prescription or answering simple health questions.

You can use it as the first contact for customers, as backup for your agents or for requests received outside of service hours.

To get a feel for our Logic Bot, you can test it out by talking to Ubie on our chatbot page .

If you build a chatbot with an external service, we also offer a chatbot API so you can use it with our software.

Some benefits of using our Logic Bot or connecting a bot to our API are:

  • Allow easy handovers to an agent at any time
  • Monitor transcripts for improvements
  • Set your ideal chat parameters
  • Set up your bot to proactively message customers
  • Provide 24/7 service
  • Connect your chatbot to the many integrations we offer

If you’re interested in our chatbot solution, start a chat on this screen to talk to a member of our team. And since you’re already here, you can sign up for our free 14-day trial to test us out.