AI will help drive real improvements in healthcare

June 19, 2018

While there is no lack of significant amounts of data, the question remains about how healthcare organizations can find the right data and utilize it to improve patient outcomes, improve efficiency and reduce costs. In a recent article with Healthcare Facilities Today, I discuss how big data will continue to shape healthcare and how artificial intelligence (AI) will play a role in this transformation. I think most people can relate to using AI in their daily lives, whether with Siri on our phones, Alexa with Amazon products or with our online shopping experience. For example, when you purchase an item, suggested items may also appear automatically on the webpage because of purchasing behavior. We need to start thinking about how AI can be applied to healthcare as well.

Data in the healthcare industry can come from wearables, such as GPS trackers, smart glasses, and Fitbits that carry immense promise for the future of care. These technologies can be used mostly by individuals to keep track of their own health information like heart rate, sleep patterns, and number of steps taken, and this information can be shared with healthcare providers to track progress. For example, a patient who just received a hip replacement uses a Fitbit, and physicians can monitor the users’ average daily movement and be alerted for assistance if there’s a significant drop in movement—maybe there’s a problem that’s preventing the patient from moving around as much as she should. By making this data interoperable, or easily shared with doctors, the data can be further analyzed to derive insights that can influence future care decisions. In addition to tracking patient’s progress, wearables can also be used to improve workforce performance by engaging workers and increasing productivity.

While there is a long way to go before the power of AI in healthcare is perfected, there are immediate steps that organizations can take using AI to support operational efficiency.

  • Task assistant: AI can help automate daily tasks for hospital staff. This helps relieve staff of mundane activities and give caregivers more time to dedicate to patient care.
  • Enhanced employee self-service: AI can empower cross-functional self-service for healthcare employees who do not have immediate access to computers, by allowing them to ask questions about paid time off or vacations, for example.
  • Supply chain optimization: AI can trigger automatic re-orders of supplies and track inventory to minimize unnecessary spending. Another benefit of using AI to optimize the supply chain is that it can help to decrease how much time nurses and clinical staff spend looking for supplies when those answers can be found online in real time.
  • Augment payment processes: AI can notice payment, vendor and invoice patterns, and suggest payment automation for invoices that get approval most the time. This gives the finance department more time to focus on ways to strategically cut costs while improving patient care.
  • Maintain a peaceful atmosphere: By using AI to oversee hospital equipment, staff can quickly access the insights needed to provide an environment that’s conducive to healing. For example, adjusting bright hallway lights during patient sleeping hours, or something as complicated as scheduling preventive maintenance when an important piece of equipment shows signs of possible failure. Having a positive atmosphere can also help boost patient satisfaction scores, helping with hospital’s reimbursement rates.

As I mentioned, we have a long way to go before we realize the full benefits of AI in healthcare and making data interoperable. However, even though we are not fully ready to use machine learning to advance treatment and care routines, the power of AI and analytics will be something to look forward to in the future disruption of the healthcare industry. To learn more, you can read the full article here and visit our website.

How will your organization use AI to improve operational efficiency and patient outcomes? Please share below.

- Mark Weber, SVP of Healthcare Development
  • Healthcare
  • EMEA
  • North America
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