In the last few years, the healthcare industry has dealt with steadily increasing readmission of patients post treatment at hospitals. Almost one in five Medicare patients return to the hospital 30 days after they have been released. HBR reported last year that hospitals could reduce this readmission trend by five percent if they prioritize regular communication with the patients post discharge. Bots, artificial intelligence based technology, which are collaborative in nature, introduce the potential to reconnect patient and doctor, putting wellness at the forefront of the conversation.
The incredible strides made by technology over the last few decades have been tremendous in bringing people closer to each other and, if applied in healthcare, could be a life-changing trend. Modern technology can be used as a step to redirect communication back to patients in an attempt to keep them healthy and out of the hospital.
The Economist recently estimated 2.5 billion people have at least one message app installed on their mobile devices, a number expected to grow to 3.6 billion within the next few years, according to Activate. Artificial intelligence, particularly in the form of bots, promises a way for those in the healthcare industry to recreate the “real” conversations that seem to be lacking between patient and physician.
Enhanced by Artificial Intelligence, bots are custom-made, context-aware programs with intuitive user experience. Bots can be either auto-enabled or manually invoked with certain features, making them an ideal tool for all players in the healthcare ecosystem.
Although not limited by it, bots rely heavily on Predictive Analytics (PA) to function. PA utilizes technology and statistical methods to scour through massive amounts of patient information including data from past treatments, health indicators, common side effects of medications, likelihood of hospital readmission for a patient with a set of symptoms or preconditions as well as the latest medical research to analyze. All of that information plays a part in the real conversation and interaction bots have with patients.
The algorithms built on data collected at the back end by providers and payers will equip bots with precise information to initiate conversations on their health. Bots have the power to pre-warn patients, physicians and payers of scenarios of possible ill health before they occur.
Put into context, if an algorithm proposes the existence of clinical conditions X and Y in patient A, it could imply the possibility of a heart attack. In that scenario, the bot will quickly intervene to warn the patient as well as the doctor or nurse of the potential attack. Through interactive conversations with patients, bots could also inform patients on how to prevent catching a cold, prepare physicians for greater volumes of queries regarding preventive health care during flu season and equip payers with the proper data they need to identify high-risk patients.
At an earlier stage in this cycle, a bot embedded into a website or mobile app at the provider’s end will help remind a patient of risk factors he or she faces due to their genome profile, encourage healthy eating and regular exercise, remind the patient to take medicines if already prescribed and encourage the patient to get in touch with the medical provider at the slightest instance of a warning sign. The conversational approach “pulls in” rather than “pushes out” data, creating fewer enquiries as to the patient’s data.
From patients’ point of view, bots have the potential to become their personal wellness mentor and a great source of insight into their own well being.
Based on what we now know about predictive analytics and bots, it’s clear that combining the two forces would bring the right data to doctors and their patients at the most critical times. They also have the potential of freeing up providers and payers from time-consuming tasks otherwise expected of them, allowing them to focus on their practice while rebuilding bonds with patients and fighting readmissions rates.
Although bots can never stand in for the knowledge and expertise that a doctor possesses, they do promise to serve as efficient and accurate analysts that can leverage complex data to ensure a patient’s health after leaving the hospital. Empowered by the precise and scientific insights predictive analytics can bring, bots are set to revolutionize how patients experience care — not only by helping renew their bond with their doctors, but also and, more importantly, by putting the responsibility of being well or well-being in their own hands.
Harish Pai is CTO at Infinite Computer Solutions and has over 25 years of experience in the technology and analytics landscape. He started his career at Microsoft and moved to NIIT, Tech Mahindra before Infinite. He is responsible for creating and defining Infinite’s healthcare service offerings, mainly focusing on big data and analytics and security and compliance. He is responsible for ensuring big data is safely and securely shared across platforms throughout all relevant geographies.