The health care industry is witnessing a profound shift driven by digital transformation and the integration of artificial intelligence (AI). In fact, in 2021 the AI in health care market was worth over $11 billion worldwide, forecast to reach around $188 billion by 2030. As technology continues to revolutionize every aspect of our lives, new innovations are reshaping health care delivery, enhancing patient outcomes, and improving operational efficiency. As the health care sector continues to evolve, digital technologies are continuing to transform how patients seek care and how physicians deliver it.
In particular, health care providers are now using artificial intelligence to speed up procedures for both patients and physicians. AI is being used to better personalize interactions between patients, clinicians, and health care organizations. With patient expectations rising ever higher, hospitals and health care providers need to do all they can to provide patient-first experiences.
Leveraging telehealth to improve access to health care
During the pandemic, telehealth usage increased dramatically, and today digital technology is still being further incorporated into U.S. health care delivery models. Telehealth apps are now offering patients an unrivalled experience and helping physicians at the same time. In 2022, telehealth was valued at $83.5 billion, estimated to reach $455.3 billion by 2030. In the past, physicians have been essentially fighting fires, treating symptoms once they manifest. However, using a digital front door to help patients access health care conveniently will promote sickness prevention and monitoring, stopping health issues before they happen. Telehealth has facilitated the implementation of remote monitoring systems, enabling physicians to proactively track patients’ health conditions and intervene when necessary. Meanwhile, health care apps help balance the convenience of technology with the human empathy of physicians.
Implementing technology while never losing the human touch optimizes the patient experience at every touchpoint. Patients and physicians can communicate through multiple channels via concierge telemedicine services, such as text messaging, chatbots, or email, and this omnichannel model means that health care practitioners can talk to their patients in a more timely way. Telehealth portals can also serve as a private virtual space where patients can get all-encompassing treatment whenever they need it. With 24/7 remote access, patients now have the convenience of receiving medical consultations, diagnoses, and treatment from the comfort of their homes almost immediately – reducing the need for unnecessary travel and wait times. Accordingly, one study found that patient wait times were reduced by 6 minutes in those facilities that used telemedicine.
AI is streamlining hospital processes
The arrival of advanced artificial intelligence has disrupted every industry in the last year. Using AI in the health care sector has made it possible to provide care and help with more speed and convenience.
For example, AI chatbots are already being used as a first point of contact for patients. They can ask a patient about their symptoms and condition, triage them, and schedule appointments, all without drawing on the valuable time of a physician or other healthcare worker. They can even book slots at specialized facilities and rearrange missed appointments. They can also assess a patient’s symptoms when a patient feels too ill to come into a surgery. On the basis of the patient’s answers, the chatbot can suggest treatments or a further course of action. This is not limited to physical ailments either. With mental health support resources often slim on the ground, chatbots are now capable of providing excellent mental health assistance at any hour of the day, from offering self-care tips like meditation exercises, to connecting patients to other people who are having similar feelings. This will be especially powerful in rural communities without many mental health resources.
AI has proven to be a game-changer in the realm of medical imaging too. In the past, subtle abnormalities in scans could easily go unnoticed by the human eye, potentially delaying crucial interventions. However, with the assistance of AI algorithms, medical professionals can now detect and analyze even the tiniest irregularities, empowering medical professionals with enhanced diagnostic capabilities. By leveraging trained models, AI assists in accurately diagnosing patients, providing invaluable support in the initial evaluation process. Machine learning models can also predict how patients will react to certain drugs, allowing physicians to proactively address patients’ needs. This not only expedites the diagnostic journey but also ensures a higher level of precision, minimizing errors and maximizing treatment efficacy. Through this, patients are guaranteed an excellent patient experience, where automated hospital tasks mean their needs are met with efficiency and accuracy.
Furthermore, streamlining EHR documentation is crucial to solving issues like information duplication and a lack of communication between physicians. Physicians and other health care workers can benefit from AI to help them find and process patient records and additional documentation when they are already inundated with work. AI assistants that can automate procedures, spot dangers, speed up documentation, and help caregivers with day-to-day tasks. Various administrative responsibilities, including recording medical outcomes, issuing prescriptions, filing insurance claims, and patient billing, can be automated thanks to AI technology. With a decreased burden of work on physicians’ hands, this invariably leads to better patient and provider outcomes, lower rates of insurance claim filing errors, more effective payments, and decreased staff fatigue. EHR systems that leverage AI to deliver on patient requirements and handle difficulties will achieve better results, higher engagement, and increased satisfaction.
With aging populations across the world, many health care systems are creaking. Fortunately, technology such as telehealth and artificial intelligence do have the potential to address some of the most pressing challenges in health care. They are already improving patient outcomes, enhancing operational efficiency, and driving personalized care, and they are set to continue.
Raghid El-Yafouri is a technology and digital transformation consultant at Bottle Rocket.