Healthcare systems around the world are under increasing stress to fulfill their responsibility to provide quality care to growing and aging populations. While increased demand is having a growing impact on developed nations’ health systems, it is a full-blown humanitarian crisis in developing regions. Fortunately, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is emerging as a tool that can help mitigate these issues by assisting healthcare providers through the automation of high-volume administrative tasks.
The automation, augmentation and optimization of healthcare will be one of the many discussion topics at this year’s Digital Workforce Summit (DWS) in New York City on Wednesday May 8th. Attendees will hear from top executives from MetLife, Becton Dickinson and Bank of America among many others who will discuss AI’s impact on their organizations. If you are interested in how to jumpstart your company’s own AI-fueled transformation, then click the link below to reserve your spot at this year’s event.
Here are some of the ways that the healthcare industry as a whole will benefit through the use of AI.
Addressing the Healthcare Workforce Shortage
The US is an advanced economy with a highly-educated workforce, but it still faces massive shortages of qualified nurses — and the problem is only getting worse. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be more than a million registered nurse openings by 2024. There are a variety of reasons for the nursing gaps, including a dearth of nursing school slots, increased competition for talent and an increased need for care from the aging boomer population.
In response to these shortages, many hospitals are forced to spend more resources to recruit and retain qualified nurses, which can add additional financial strains. According to a report from Reuters: “Healthcare labor costs typically account for at least half of a facility’s expenses. They jumped by 7.6% nationally last year, after climbing at a rate closer to 5% annually in recent years.” These shortages are particularly acute among providers in rural areas. The Reuters report highlighted the plight of one hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia, which spent $10.4 million in 2017 to hire and retain nurses, compared to just $3.6 million a year earlier.
Gathering Patient Information
While some form of institutional transformation will ultimately be necessary to address the nursing shortage, AI-powered automation can mitigate many of these effects by helping individual nurses to be more productive. According to a report from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, nurses spend about 10% of their shifts on “delegable or non-nursing activities [that] could have been used more effectively for patient care,” and nearly a quarter of their time on “documentation.”
AI can free nurses from high-volume and routine administrative tasks, which means they can spend more time providing quality care to patients. Not only can AI be used to automate tasks such as sending out appointment confirmations or securely organizing patient data, but virtual agents such as Amelia can automate more complex processes such as collecting information on patients’ symptoms. Virtual agents are not yet ready to provide actual diagnoses and treatment recommendations, but they can automate data and information gathering that can often be time-consuming for nurses and providers. For example, she can be the first point of contact for patients when they arrive at a doctor’s office or hospital:
Amelia: Hello, what is the reason for your visit today?
Patient: It’s for my son, I think he has a poison ivy rash.
Amelia: I’m sorry to hear that. I’ll have one of the nurses from our dermatology department come meet with you to take a closer look. When did the symptoms first appear?
Automation can help patients be matched with the right care provider right away, and more importantly it can also maximize a provider’s time by independently executing many routine processes, be they on the backend or patient-facing.
Providing Compliance Assistance
Aside from assisting in patient care scenarios, AI is also particularly helpful when it comes to executing processes related to compliance. Healthcare is one of the world’s most regulated sectors, which means providers are compelled to navigate an evolving patchwork of regulations and protocols. When partnered with AI, compliance officers are able to tweak protocols instantly at scale, which provides healthcare providers with access to the most up-to-date procedures and reduces overall training time. This ensures that providers and the facilities in which they work remain in compliance at all times.
AI is a transformative force for industries around the world, but perhaps holds the most potential for impact within the healthcare space. We look forward to seeing you in NYC in May to explore the possibilities for transformation in healthcare and throughout other industries.