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Transforming patient experiences through AI technology

by uma

 

Tara Mahoney, Global Healthcare Managing Director, at Genesys

Over the past two years, healthcare services have been under tremendous pressure from tight budgets to staff shortages and increasing waiting times. In fact, waiting lists for the NHS continue to grow, now reaching an all-time high of 6.8 million people awaiting treatment. The sector also faces additional challenges to approach patient issues with more care, dealing with people’s most personal and sensitive problems. Delays in accessing care is creating additional stress and the care team and health system leadership need to approach each situation with empathy now more than ever.

At the same time, patients aren’t the only ones who suffer when accessing healthcare services is a challenge. Health worker wellbeing issues have resulted in more than 40,000 nurses leaving the NHS in the past year.  Equally, strikes are now on the horizon due to workers feeling overworked and underpaid.

For Healthsystems to retain staff, whilst putting patients first, operational innovation and technology is needed at the forefront of operations. The healthcare industry has generally been slow to adopt digital technologies – an issue made more apparent over the pandemic. By putting the right solutions in place, patients and staff alike can get the support they need.

Healthcare undergoes its own digital transformation

Artificial Intelligences already playing a key role in healthcare from rapidly analysing x-rays and scans to helping detect cancer earlier and making sense of big health data for clinical trials and care pathways.AI and predictive analytics can also drive new engagement models with patients by improving communication between them and their care team. It helps ensure their care is coordinated with timely reminders about their care plan, and getting the patient to the right resource, be that digital, administrative or clinical. This gives the care team a better view of all patient interactions and using natural language processing to understand the intent behind interactions, they provide better advice and care.

Patients are also increasingly turning to digital channels to contact healthcare professionals. Tele-consultations skyrocketed during the pandemic and according to a Eurostat ICT household survey, in the EU 55 % of people aged 16 to 74 searched for health-related information over the internet in the first quarter of 2020. All of this is creating new ways people can interact with their provider as well as generating massive amounts of data.

AI technology can also reduce the burden on the care team by automating routine tasks, reducing the time spend finding the right resource to support a patient, giving the team the tools they need in the right moment and providing analytics on how to better support the care team.

Here’s three ways AI can help to transform how the industry is delivering patient care experiences, putting empathy at its core:

  1. Using AI to systematically understand how patients are and need to be treated

Behavioural data collected across diverse channels and IT infrastructure provides useful insight that can be leveraged with AI. Through the insights provided, healthcare providers can determine strategy and design a roadmap for patient experience improvement, pinpointing process and performance issues.

By identifying trends with AI, staff can assess why a patient may reach out before they do. Central to personalising experiences, the care team can use information to automate parts of the journey, share relevant and timely communication with patients, and surface knowledge so care teams can address questions or concerns. 

  • Providing solutions for each individual

In a similar vein, data must be utilised to identify each individual patients’ needs, that will give providers the means to reduce patient effort by having the most effective solutions readily available. This is where AI comes in, using speech and text analytics care teams can capture the patients’ intent, to best route the patient to the right resource to address that intent.

Furthermore, speech and text analytics driven by AI can generate transcripts annotated with topics and sentiment analysis. This allows healthcare providers to quickly identify information needed for a specific issue across digital channels. By understanding the root cause of why a patient is reaching out, advisors can be better prepared with meaningful solutions when patients get in touch.

Patientsneed to know that healthcare providers care about their problems and view them as important– and more so than other industries. This means providers need to do more to learn and adjust to demands so that patients feel heard and understood, and importantly, that they can rely on providers to take care of their healthcare needs. By staying ahead of patient needs with solutions to the most prominent experience issues identified, healthcare providers can ensure they’re meeting patient concerns with empathy and help to build trust in their services.

  • Caring for the care teams

Healthcare staff need technology to help them manage increased demand and provide meaningful solutions that minimise care team stress and burnout. Giving staff tools to better manage their workloads while improving communication with patients is critical.

AI can help to enhance the employee experience. Through automation, routine tasks can be removed i.e. “When and where is my appointment?”, “Remind me what I need to do after my treatment?”, “How many refills do I have on my prescription?”.  By analysing patient journeys, care teams can get an individual to the right healthcare professional and give that member of staff the information like practice protocols, nursing protocols, the patients electronic health record, on call schedules and much more. Through this, they can better manage their time, close the communication loop with other staff members and peers and help to reduce waiting times, whilst also ensuring that their own time is spent focusing onthe most important issues.

 The future patient experience

The healthcare sector has been under huge amounts of strain in the past few years, further bringing to light the vital need for change in the industry. Patients require care when and where it’s needed, while workers also need the support to confidently deliver this care – technology is the missing link here. 

By putting AI driven engagement technology in place, healthcare providers can begin to build seamless experiences for patients and help workers to deliver quality care time and time again. Through identifying the key areas for patient stress and having the solutions at hand to address this, providers can reduce unnecessary effort and frustration, ensuring resources are put where they’re most needed. With the right tools in place, healthcare providers can establish trust and reassure patients that their problems are in the right hands.

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