How augmented intelligence can help streamline healthcare
Before and after doctor visits, artificial intelligence, augmented intelligence and machine learning can save overworked humans hours of valuable time.
May 10, 2021 by Jess McCuan
Few industries are in more desperate need of a technology overhaul than healthcare. In a scathing post on the American Medical Association site last year, Dr. James Madara, the AMA president, wrote that if a year of dealing with COVID-19 proved anything, it’s that the US healthcare system (both before and after the pandemic) is “a hodgepodge of ideas, programs and regulations that is both extraordinarily expensive and highly inefficient.” His recommendations for fixing the situation include eliminating needless paperwork and boosting human intelligence with technology — training physicians to use technology from the 21st century, not the 20th.
So what’s the first step in taming healthcare bureaucracy? In fact, one of the easiest ways to help healthcare practitioners is to combine human skill with augmented intelligence to eliminate all the nonclinical manual tasks associated with their jobs.
Automate appointment scheduling
Take appointment scheduling, for example. The American Association of Family Physicians found that a sizable chunk of healthcare inefficiencies, which cost hospital systems billions each year, include scheduling and missed appointments. The AAFP noted that up to 30 percent of appointments resulted in no-shows, a phenomenon that another study found costs American companies $150 billion annually.
Artificial intelligence and augmented intelligence can help streamline every aspect of appointment scheduling from end to end. For example, let’s say a patient sends an email to a clinic, hoping to set up an appointment in the coming weeks. That email would normally need to be read by a human, a process that could take up to 5 minutes. But Automation Hero’s platform can detect the intent of that incoming message, automate the scheduling of an appointment based on it, and perform appropriate next steps. (It can also do this for other common requests, which helps eliminate human error in these low-level processes).
Communicate with patients — about the important things
It can help with other aspects of patient communication too. Let’s say a patient is puzzled about some aspect of a monthly bill. He or she emails the healthcare provider with several questions and includes attached documents. If the healthcare group is using Automation Hero, it can instantly use an artificial intelligence model to detect the email’s basic content and intent, then route the email automatically to the appropriate department. It also uses natural language processing and machine learning to extract relevant information from the attached documents, the same way a human might. The info might include patient or medical record numbers, visit dates, and other details. Extracting this automatically combines human capabilities with machine intelligence and saves administrative staff valuable time for higher-value tasks. It also gives IT staff actionable insights based on real-time practice data.
Has your lab testing facility seen an uptick in volume due to COVID-19? Augmented intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing can help with all the nonclinical functions, from processing identification documents during patient intake to interpreting handwritten forms to scheduling appointments, processing invoices, and delivering lab results. This means human staffers can get back to what they do best, which is interacting with patients and weighing in on higher-level decisions that involve strategy or judgment.
Humans + machines = happier outcomes
To be sure, healthcare’s problems run deep, including plenty of problems data scientists can’t fix. But long before and after a patient sees a doctor, there are plenty of tasks that augmented intelligence and machine learning can streamline, giving actionable insights to administrative staff and giving the healthcare industry’s overworked humans precious hours of their time back.