Healthcare systems around the world are under increasing pressure to provide quality medical care to growing patient populations. Fortunately, AI can automate high-volume transactional and cognitive tasks, freeing caregivers to engage more personally with patients and use scarce resources more effectively.
This kind of potential transformation was the focus of a fascinating panel discussion at this year’s Digital Workforce Summit (DWS) titled “How AI Will Impact Global Health.” The panel was moderated by IPsoft Healthcare Practice Lead Dr. Vincent Grasso and featured insights from a diverse set of leaders in this space including Kathleen McFetridge (VP of IT, McKesson), Merin Joseph (CIO, Westmed), Andrew Richardson (CEO, House with No Steps) and Dr. Suman De (Global Practice Lead, Data & Intelligence, NTT Data Services).
Dr. Grasso kicked off the conversation by noting that he sees his work with IPsoft as centering on the pursuit of three chief goals: “Decrease the cost of care, improve clinical outcomes and increase patient satisfaction,” which he went on to say “will help drive the global decentralization of healthcare delivery, and empower the next generation of business ecosystems.” The other panelists then were eager to share lessons from their AI journeys and present ideas for what they would like to see in the future.
A New Approach
Beyond making healthcare more productive, AI allows providers to transform their entire approach to care. “From a physician perspective, I strongly believe we’ve never actually attempted true healthcare, we always try to do ‘sick care,’” said Dr. Suman De from NTT Data Services. “We never pursued that particular philosophy that prevention is better than a cure. Right? And that is where I definitely feel that transformative technology like AI… has fantastic things to do.”
Dr. De went on to discuss the potential for using AI to process and analyze patient data for preventive means. “[With] all the data you can drive meaningful intelligence. And through this meaningful intelligence, it [will not only be] about predicting the future, it’s more about prescribing it,” he said. “So we are developing solutions which can help you to generate next best actions and guide those patients who are currently in need, as well as those who want to be protected for the future, through right directions.”
Turn Down the High Volume
Since automation fueled by AI is particularly adept at executing rote tasks, it makes it particularly valuable at taking on the bulk of administrative tasks, which are a drain on healthcare systems. “[Currently] 30% of healthcare costs goes towards administrative charges. That’s a big number,” said Merin Joseph, the CIO of Westmed. “In healthcare, administrative tasks [includes things like] scheduling an appointment, billing and collections, patient referrals, crossing the patients’ referrals, or preauthorization. All of these back-office functions are consuming the cost of the healthcare.”
She went on to explain how automation via AI can free workers from mundane tasks, but also maintain compliance for providers. “We are a privately owned physician group practice with 500 providers,” she continued. “For 500 providers, there’s over 10,000 sets of rules for the call center staff to know… So, we definitely need something like Amelia to process those calls, and make sure that the right thing is getting done.”
The ability of AI to execute high-volume patient engagements was also highlighted by Kathleen McFetridge of McKesson, who explained a use case that she is developing with IPsoft to augment their call centers. “Our call center … takes about two million calls. There are about 300 variables on what the actual patient may be able to ask,” McFetridge explained. “So using Amelia, our goal is to be able to answer 90-plus percent of those calls, and take that staff and move them up to do more white-glove treatment for our patients.”
A More Hopeful Future
We are only beginning to explore all the ways that AI will transform healthcare. As more organizations explore the possibilities, the scope of that impact continues to expand. “We’re a not-for-profit organization and we’re driven by a single purpose, which is to help people with a disability live a great life. And so, we look at value and the potential value of AI somewhat differently,” explained Andrew Richardson CEO of House with No Steps, an Australian organization which provides services to people with disabilities. “[AI’s benefits will include] anything that furthers our purpose [and] delivers value. And then secondly, anything that helps ensure our ongoing financial and organizational sustainability.”
Richardson’s organization is working with IPsoft to explore how Amelia can be used to assist both patients and caregivers. While he stated that “the crystal ball is a bit hazy” as far as how AI will continue to evolve, he actually hopes that AI technologies will make organizations like his redundant. “So, just as today, a person with a physical disability uses a wheelchair to get around,” he explained, “then potentially in the future, a person with an intellectual impairment may supplement or offset their intellectual impairment with Artificial Intelligence, which would make them much less dependent on support organizations such as us.”