While artificial intelligence or “smart” technology will soon be prevalent in a variety of industries, it is sure to revolutionize the healthcare industry in particular; an industry that will impact us all in one way or another. Whether as providers or patients we are sure to see transformation of the design and insight into treatment plans, management of medications, as well as improving efficiencies and assisting in repetitive work duties.
The most obvious utilization of artificial intelligence across all industries comes in the form of data mining and data management. Collecting, correlating and storing information to determine patterns is the basis upon which artificial intelligence technology has been built upon. With the knowledge, statistics, and calculations that can be taken from the mass collection of data comes technological innovation that we as patients or healthcare workers can anticipate seeing in a variety of interactions.
In an effort to smooth patient intake and reduce processing times, insurance coverage information can be digitally verified. AI’s intelligent algorithms can learn from historical cases and continuously evolve so that errors are eliminated or reduced from the submission of insurance claim process. Leveraging artificial intelligence can reduce the amount of manual calls needed to ensure information is valid and accurate. The improved efficiency is sure to deliver savings that insurance providers and health care providers could potentially pass along to patients.
Virtual Assistant and Access to Services
In an effort to streamline workflows, and improve patient experience virtual assistants can be used to reduce physician and staff burnout. According to the American Medical Association, primary care physicians spend more than half of their workday at a computer screen performing data entry and other electronic health record tasks. With the power of AI and smart tools like Nuance’s virtual assistant, physicians can take a more natural approach to clinical documentation.
Hospital bots created by Toyota began dispensing medications in Japanese hospitals this year. By providing support to staff the bots will attempt to reduce the demanding workload and improve hospital efficiencies.
But it’s not just physicians and medical staff that can implement technology to improve services. Patients and individuals are now able to access a variety of services via medical applications. Those suffering with anxiety or depression can complete therapy sessions at their own pace, from their own home and then a therapist reviews the homework assignments and has an e-mail conversations, video or phone calls as needed. With strong links between cancer treatment and depression, hospitals have also offered internet-based mindfulness program for patients who’ve spent a whole day at the chemo clinic.
While health apps hold the potential to help Canadians in need find proper care, one must use caution when relying on apps exclusively for treatment. Finding apps that offer quality advice can be hard to differentiate from apps seeking to sell fake or misleading digital cures.
Here in Ottawa, a local firm, Advanced Symbolic Inc. has been hired by the Canadian government to use social media trends to predict and forecast potential spikes in suicide risks. The initiative’s intention has hopes that analysis of their monitoring tools could be used one day to deploy mental health services and intervention to regions where they will occur prior to events actually taking place.
With the advancements that artificial intelligence has made in understanding emotional language and user speech inflection, AI platforms are able to read into vocal tones and could possibly detect underlying chronic conditions like depression. Trends will show an increasing reliance on AI as a tool for early detection of several physical and mental disorders supported by recognition of patterns in patient data.
Things to Consider
While AI applications can help companies to optimize services and lower costs, accelerate processes, and make better decisions, one must ensure they have first laid a solid foundation for successful implementation. Digitizing records, establishing management processes and technology polices, and being able to track outcomes and establish metrics will go along way in establishing technological success in the healthcare industry.
Healthcare obviously has high stakes, as decisions can result in life-and death consequences. We haven’t even touched upon (in this blog post) the security and privacy complications that could arise with introducing technology on this scale. But one thing is certain: AI technologies are going to play a more prominent role in future healthcare management. For now and likely for significant time to come, AI will have to play a supporting role and should not distract or interfere with real human interaction and conversation among clinicians, physicians and patients.