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Five ways AI can benefit customer experience in healthcare

By John Zimmerer, Vice President of Healthcare Marketing at Smart Communications



Artificial intelligence (AI) is all the rage today, and people are increasingly talking about OpenAI, ChatGPT, GPT-4, and large language models (LLMs).

The technology has evolved from interesting to useful, especially as developers can now access the APIs for use in their tech products.

This has been a boon in recent years, especially for the healthcare industry where it can revolutionise the way doctors communicate with patients.

It has already been proven to be beneficial for healthcare customer communications in many different ways.

And with these recent tools, health practitioners have more tools at their disposal to help their patients.

Here are five ways AI can benefit customer communications in healthcare, both now and in the future.

Improving the patient experience

AI can improve the patient experience by providing personalised care to patients.

Many healthcare systems now have AI-powered chatbots which patients can access at any time for their healthcare needs, such as appointments, medication reminders, answers to general health questions and more.

AI-powered virtual agents can also provide a human-like conversational experience (at any time); patients feel more comfortable and engaged in their care when it is convenient for them.

A human touch is important for patients, and it is key for AI to personalise the experience by supporting when a human isn’t required.

However, the main goal of AI systems must always be for patients to receive the most accurate, relevant information that can help them manage their health more effectively.

By providing personalised care, AI technology can enhance the patient experience and improve patient satisfaction.

Increasing efficiency and employee productivity

One of the biggest benefits of AI in any industry is how it improves efficiency across the board, giving employees more time to focus on more important matters that AI cannot help with.

AI can handle routine inquiries, provide basic medical advice, and automate administrative tasks such as appointment scheduling and prescription refills, freeing up staff time for more pressing matters.

This in turn reduces wait times for patients and improves the overall quality of care.

An opportunity here is to use AI to triage patients, pointing them to the most appropriate provider given the presented symptoms.

Using a large dataset, the AI would be able to categorise the severity of each case and either connect the patient to a nurse line, route them to a virtual care provider, or to facilitate an in-person visit to an urgent care facility or emergency department.

Providing accurate data

One of the biggest concerns experts have voiced about current AI models is their tendency to confidently state things as if they were facts, when in reality they are entirely made up.

This is what is referred to as a “hallucinations problem,” and it highlights the dangers of relying solely on AI technology in a field such as healthcare, where accurate information is crucial to patient safety.

That is why there must be a human watching and correcting its mistakes.

But when these problems are fixed, AI will be able to provide patients with accurate medical information and advice and improve the accuracy of diagnoses and treatment plans by analysing patient data and identifying patterns that may indicate an underlying condition.

On the administrative side, AI technology can help healthcare providers to reduce errors in medical records and other documentation, leading to improved patient safety and better healthcare outcomes.

It can also distill information in ways that are easier for patients and providers to understand. Multi-modal APIs like GPT-4 can ingest images as well as text and can also interpret structured data.

So, it is possible for it to distill a large document such as a statement of benefits and tell whether a specific product or service would be covered by insurance and what the patient’s “responsible portion” would be.

Creating accessibility

For patients who are unable to see a doctor in person, AI technology is crucial to their care. F

or patients with mobility issues, disabilities, or who live in remote areas, AI chatbots can provide them with access to healthcare information and advice without the need to travel to a healthcare facility.

Moreover, AI technology can provide translation services for patients who speak languages other than English.

This can help to improve communication with patients who may otherwise struggle to understand medical terminology or instructions.

Additionally, AI can generate content in ways that are easier for patients to understand.

Surveys show that consumers do not understand the majority of healthcare information provided to them, including education materials and transactional documents such as explanations of benefits.

Thus, AI can help payers and providers produce content that is easier to consume and use.

Predicting risk

AI technology can act as a guide and almost a predictive source to help providers identify trends and patterns that may be relevant to patient care.

By analysing patient data, AI technology can help practitioners identify risk factors for certain conditions as well as gaps in care, allowing providers to develop targeted interventions to improve patient outcomes.

As it stands right now, AI is not capable of everything. Most generative AI like GPT-4 can only interpret input and generate output based upon a generalised training data set.

This means that they’re not good at performing specialised, domain-specific tasks such as interpreting an X-ray or generating an accurate diagnosis based on provided symptoms.

For now, it is best to limit the use of GPT-4 to tasks where the output could be reviewed by a domain subject matter expert.

But soon, AI capabilities are likely to improve such that they are capable of these more complex tasks, improving the patient experience even more.

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