AI and associated tools like ChatGPT are already creating opportunities for efficiency across many industries. Healthcare is shaping up to be one of them. Efficiencies within healthcare will likely span from optimizing billing practices, to simplifying the process of finding and booking a doctor, to reducing wait times and lab result times. But in an industry as personal as healthcare, is less human-to-human interaction the best way to instill patient trust and loyalty?

Before acting on the hype and diving into an AI innovation strategy, it is vital to understand the patient perspective to strike a useful balance between efficiencies and the human touch to create better experiences, improved outcomes, and drive positive organizational growth.

Addressing the pain points of the healthcare system today

While the “customer journey” across the healthcare industry can be unique to all, there are common pain points that we can bubble up to explore how to improve patient experience.

These pain points include:

  • Time – Whether it is time waiting in the lobby for administrative matters, waiting for lab results or for diagnostics to come in, or the time spent searching for a doctor, time wasted can leave patients feeling frustrated and ignored. In the most serious cases, time can be the tipping point between life or death.
  • Coverage – We know the health insurance system in the U.S. is complex. The result: millions of people every year spend substantial time figuring out how and where to access quality healthcare services. Meanwhile, insurance providers have the complex task of creating and updating offerings to meet the everchanging needs of those people.
  • Cost – Even when patients successfully navigate their healthcare coverage, out-of-pocket costs for many services, treatments and medications can be steep, forcing them to make difficult tradeoffs.

While AI cannot solve all such problems overnight, implementing innovative technologies to create efficiencies in these areas will go a long way in improving overall patient experience. But don’t take our word for it – let’s explore how two industry-leading healthcare organizations demonstrate the bright side of how AI is making a significant impact on the healthcare industry, from diagnosis and treatment to improving access to medical imaging and research insights.

Exploring the use case of AI innovation in healthcare

One healthcare provider that has effectively utilized AI to improve patient communication and processes is Kaiser Permanente. They implemented an AI-powered chatbot called “KP Bot” to enhance patient interactions and streamline administrative tasks. KP Bot operates through the organization’s patient portal and mobile app, allowing patients to ask questions about appointments, medication refills, lab results, and general health inquiries. The AI chatbot responds promptly, offering personalized information based on each patient’s medical history and preferences. This has resulted in faster and more efficient communication between patients and the healthcare system, reducing administrative burdens on staff and providing patients with convenient access to essential healthcare information. As a result, Kaiser Permanente has enhanced patient engagement and satisfaction while optimizing internal processes with the integration of AI technology.

Cleveland Clinic, a prominent healthcare provider, uses AI-driven predictive analytics called the Modified Early Warning System (MEWS) to enhance patient outcomes. The system continuously analyzes patient data from electronic health records, looking for early signs of deterioration or risk of complications. When concerning patterns are detected, the AI innovation triggers real-time alerts for healthcare teams, enabling timely interventions and personalized care. This proactive approach improves patient safety, reduces the workload on healthcare professionals, and optimizes decision-making, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes and stronger patient-provider bonds.

Keeping the ‘human-touch’ front and center

Healthcare is equal parts treatment, human connection and empathy. While emerging technology can create efficiencies that reduce pain points ‘behind-the-scenes’, it cannot smile or provide a warm and comforting hand in a patient’s time of need.

With these advancements, some might jump to thinking that ‘robot’ doctors and automated receptionists are a logical next step. And while the technology could be ready for that, we don’t believe patients are seeking the same level of advancement.

Think of it this way: when a patient is waiting to receive care, they aren’t thinking about how their doctor’s office is improving efficiency behind the scenes. They’re thinking about receiving quality care from someone that they trust. And if AI technology and innovation can provide avenues to help healthcare organizations provide better care for patients without compromising human interaction, that may be the perfect balance.

Of course, different health experiences, different patients and different generations come with different expectations. For example, a young patient dealing with a broken bone will want and need a different experience than an elderly patient dealing with a chronic condition. Understanding these differences at both a quantitative and qualitative perspective is essential to providing options that sync with what patients want and need.

Finding the Balance

AI innovation already offers us possibilities that feel nearly boundless, and that’s only increasing every day. But it is important to remember just because processes can be automated, doesn’t mean they should be. In the case of healthcare organizations, designing and implementing AI-based solutions that will address existing pain points along the patient experience journey without compromising the human experience that comes with it will be the key to improved outcomes for all. After all, new technology should make providers jobs easier, taking away administrative barriers, and paving the way for deeper human connection.

By Meaghan Hafner & Scott Laing

The post Drive Healthcare Efficiency with AI, but Don’t Lose the Human Touch appeared first on .

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