AI in healthcare will benefit patients and caregivers

The recent Harvard Business Review article by Brian Kallis and Matt Collier from Accenture on “10 Promising AI Applications in Healthcare” very wisely rebalances the discourse about AI within the industry. The authors highlight the fact that most of the potential value in healthcare via AI will be realized through the cognitive augmentation of routine interactions – rather than the more headline-grabbing applications in clinical decision-support that tend to get much of the attention. Cognitive augmentation of the routine is the hidden part of the iceberg in Healthcare AI.

Indeed, Collier and Kallis identify virtual nurse assistants and administrative workflow agents as two of the top three AI applications in healthcare, and estimate that these applications have the potential to drive $38b in value, defined as savings, by 2026. We concur, and we also believe that cognitive AI, applied in the augmentation of these routine roles, can drive value across all dimensions of the “quadruple aim” in healthcare: quality, access, experience (for patients and caregivers) and efficiency.

This is why at IPsoft we have focused on augmenting these routine healthcare interactions when designing Amelia, our cognitive conversational AI colleague. Amelia is routinely noted by analysts, clients and partners for her exceptional ability to semantically understand meaning and context, her ability to empathize, her ability to learn, and her ability to seamlessly fit into a care team – all essential qualities in a healthcare colleague.

Cognitive augmentation of the routine is the hidden part of the iceberg in Healthcare AI.

Our clients and partners have been designing Amelia into a variety of virtual care assistant roles. Some are designed to support caregivers directly, such as acting as a “whisper agent” augmenting the productivity, compliance and skills of a caregiver providing services to home-based elderly patients. In the whisper agent capacity, Amelia can help document visits, and provide protocol compliance and decision support via an intuitive and convenient conversational interface. Others Amelia roles are designed to support patients, such as a care coordination agent, helping patients with chronic conditions navigate routine interactions about their care plans – rescheduling tests, requesting prescription refills, or providing a conversational ability to navigate through therapeutic education information and services.

Clients across the healthcare ecosystem, ranging from payers to providers and life sciences companies, also have leveraged Amelia to enable administrative workflows. The spectrum ranges from the most mundane corporate services such as IT and HR support, to more operational interactions such as facilitating insurance pre-authorizations, scheduling and managing appointments, and navigating patients through a hospital campus’s facilities.

It is true that AI offers the promise of generating extremely valuable new insights that can bring exciting innovations to how doctors and providers practice medicine. However, a more practical and achievable benefit in the short-term with AI will come from the deployment of virtual agents in the healthcare workforce, freeing caregivers from routine tasks.