How many times have you contacted a business online -- let’s say your bank -- only to discover you’re talking to an impersonal chat bot? You ask questions, but their answers are automated. They aren’t experts and don’t know your situation. Even if you happen to talk to a real-life person, it’s usually just someone taking a message and they have to have someone get back to you.

Technology is great, but when you’re dealing with something as personal as cancer and you’re earnestly looking for answers regarding your personal health and well-being, you want to talk to someone.

Meet Gail Lanter, CPC Practice Manager at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, otherwise known as the voice behind the chat. On the website for The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, you will find a “contact us” button in the bottom right of the screen. Click on that and you can reach out to the practice and ask any questions that may be on your mind. During office hours, you will actually communicate with Lanter, not some automated chat bot.

Lanter has been with the practice since the day it opened over 20 years ago, providing patients with information about procedures and insurance as well as answering travel questions about hotels, restaurants and recreation. A native of Charleston – she’s got some great tips for visitors she is happy to share.

Just recently, she chatted with a woman who was scared. “She has had four surgeries since August and wants to be done with it all,” said Lanter. “This lady had an implant reconstruction elsewhere and then got an infection and then had to have the implants removed. I’m not part of our clinical staff, but I can talk to her and find out what she’s scared of and then arrange for her to talk everything through with a medical professional here. That’s what we do.”

Lanter responds to every chat that comes in, manages the Facebook communication and, most importantly, if someone needs medical information that she doesn’t know, she gets the answer. “A chat bot can’t do that. We’re very patient-centric and our providers are accessible – always have been,” she said. “Just remember if you send us a question, be sure to include your email address so we can respond.”

Real people answer every time someone makes contact with the practice, including after-hours Facebook messages and chat requests, which may first get an automated reply saying they are closed for the day, but the return contact either via email or telephone is always one of their staff members, including their MDs, PAs and nurse practitioner.

“Being able to do this is what feeds our soul,” said Lanter.

For more information on The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, call 843-849-8418.