A few weeks ago, my colleague Monica E. Oss wrote about how a group of organizations—Amazon, Apple, and Google among others—make up the new “left flank” in health care (see Watch Out For Your Left Flank). These organizations are blurring the line between the tech field and the health care field. One of the key elements in this “blurring” of the line is the automation of health and human service functions that previously required human work.
This tech-enabled automation is frequently accomplished through “bots”, which are computer applications that perform automated and repetitive tasks (see What Is A Bot? Here’s Everything You Need To Know)—“common” examples include search engine bots, web indexing bots, text-reading algorithms, chatbots, and videogame bots (see Lots Of Bots: 5 Types Of Robots That Are Running The Internet). Some of the great examples of health care service using bots include: Amazon’s Comprehend Medical machine learning service that extracts medical information from unstructured text in electronic health data (see Amazon Launches Comprehend Medical AI Service To Analyze Unstructured Electronic Health Data); Woebot, a chatbot resembling an instant messaging service that “asks” about user moods and thoughts and uses the answers to “learn” about the consumer (see Woebot Raises $8 Million For Its AI Therapist); and the Microsoft Healthcare Bot service that facilitates customizable messaging, and virtual health assistants (see Microsoft Healthcare Bot Service Launched To Facilitate Customizable Messaging & Virtual Health Assistants).
So, what is the advantage to health and human service delivery in a “bot” workforce? Speed, reliability, consistency, and cost-effectiveness all come to mind. Sound too far-fetched for your management team? I would disagree. A recent article, 5 Use Cases For Chatbots In Healthcare in HIT Consultant, gave some practical ideas about how to leverage bot technology in current health and human service delivery-in customer services, consumer outreach, care coordination, triage, and treatment services.
Customer service administration—Which parts of your administration could be completely automated? This question often makes health care executives uncomfortable; however, there are an increasing number of functions that were previously done by staff that can now be handled by bots, including scheduling appointments, issuing appointment reminders, or automated hovering to manage things like prescription medications.
Consumer engagement—It’s unsustainable to hire staff to constantly keep consumers engaged in their own health care. Operating in an on-demand market with elevated consumer expectations and large consumer populations means successful organizations will need to leverage technology to keep consumers engaged, interested, and “activated” in their own care. Chatbots that use artificial intelligence to conduct “conversations” with consumers via auditory or textual methods can provide a steady stream of medical information that helps engage consumers.
Population Health Management/Care Coordination—How do you deliver value-based care in an accessible and scalable fashion? One solution getting more traction in the field is to automate the outreach and coordination education tools necessary to enhance consumer/provider communication, provider/provider communication, and better manage health care experiences across the whole continuum of care. Examples include consumer follow-up, referrals, and treatment planning.
Triage—When speed is a concerning factor in diagnoses and treatment, as might be found in an urgent care setting where consumers need to be managed depending on urgency, AI-powered chatbots can help speed the process by prioritizing population health management practices, and managing which consumers are seen and in what order.
Personalized Treatment Plans—Human service organizations are now repositories for a lot of data and turning that data into usable information and/or automated forms of treatment will rely on automating much of the analysis that is currently done by staff. Bots, along with other forms of AI and analysis programs, are at the heart of taking large chunks of data and turning it into actionable information and customized decision support that can help aid in consumer treatment planning.
Tech-enabled service automation has revolutionized many businesses—from travel arrangements and taxi rides, to gasoline pumps and cash dispensing. Health and human services is just behind the curve. Executive teams need to think creatively about the how to apply these technologies to their services with an eye on improving value. We have covered many of these developments in the health care space:
- Yes, There Are Organizations Using Augmented Intelligence
- The Virtual Assistants & Avatars Among Us
- Ready Or Not, Cognitive Computing Will Change Your Organization
- What Tool Can Your Management Team Take From Netflix, Amazon, Lyft, Uber & Walmart?
- Can Someone (Or Something) Make Sense Of The Notes In Your EHR?
- Sensely Virtual Nurse App Sense.ly Raises $8 Million From Investors Including The Mayo Clinic
- Ada Nets $19 Million Series A To Grow Its Customer Service Chatbot
- This Startup Wants To Replace Your Doctor With A Chatbot
- HealthTap Collaborates With Facebook To Provide Free Text Access To Physicians
- Pharmaceutical Company Lupin Launches Chatbot To Dispense Medical Information
Looking for more on the exciting world of health care tech? Then don’t forget to mark your calendars for The 2019 OPEN MINDS Technology & Informatics Institute on October 28-30, 2019, at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.