Imagine this: you’ve been dealing with chronic pains for some time and are considering major surgery. Before you take this big step, however, you visit multiple doctors for their opinion on your upcoming surgery. During this process, you find that you’re having an incredibly difficult time collecting the notes you need from your multiple previous doctor visits.
As frustrating as the aforementioned scenario is, it’s also a common one. So it’s not hard to imagine how the promise of solving these kinds of problems for doctors, patients, and hospitals has stirred up excitement for years.
Not only does AI for healthcare promise to make doctors’ jobs easier, it could also fundamentally change the nature of patient care. The following three examples illustrate some essential ways AI can boost overall efficiency and effectiveness and transform healthcare for everyone.
1. Clears up insurance confusion and bolsters verification
Receiving any kind of initial medical treatment for anything, from a minor injury to a chronic illness, is more often than not, a frustrating, drawn-out process. The current nature of insurance plans contributes to the problem. Statistics indicate that more than half of insured Americans struggle to understand what their plans cover. Even more, Americans find it incredibly difficult to find physicians within their networks. As a result, many people end up waiting much longer than recommended before starting their required treatment.
Thankfully, AI for healthcare applications has the capability to change all of that. Tools like the Zocdoc Insurance Checker reduce friction for patients by relying on AI to determine what a plan does and does not cover. Inevitably, it helps customers choose the right plan in an efficient, timely manner.
With Zocdoc Insurance, customers simply upload a photo of their insurance card, which is then automatically stored in your account. Before you book an appointment, the app will use the information from your insurance card to verify whether they cover the procedure. Additionally, it will let you know of an available doctor in your network.
It’s a simple concept, but one which will benefit patients in substantial ways.
2. Streamline communication between patients and physicians
Physicians don’t just provide care when you’re sick. They can also offer advice to help patients live healthier lifestyles.
Of course, few people have the time to visit their doctor every time they have a question about their wellness. Luckily, AI is solving the problem. Case in point is Doc.ai, a new product that allows users to input key information such as their gender, age, and weight. It also lets them include a list of medications they take. When connected to a Fitbit or other wearables, the app has even more data for managing customers’ health conditions and treatments.
The result is a detailed file on your overall wellness. Patients will be able to “converse” with an AI doctor, asking questions like “How can I lower my cholesterol?” The app generates answers based on the information on file. If the AI doctor, or agent, cannot answer the patient’s question they can determine whether they need a human physician.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Doc.ai’s creators also plan to release products that will interpret blood tests and other lab results for both patients and physicians. This is another way AI will reduce the amount of time it takes for patients to receive treatment. With too few doctors available to evaluate lab results quickly, it helps to have a technology on hand that can reduce the workload.
3. Helps hospitals sift through unstructured data that they can easily overlook
Subtle behavioral shifts, especially from those suffering from a mental illness like anxiety or depression, are often the first signs of bigger problems on the horizon. However, catching these subtle shifts when they happen can be challenging. This is especially true when you’re a busy physician with several patients to care for.
Now thanks to AI for healthcare, people can organize and manage anything from photos, videos, recorded dialogue, physician notes, sensor data, and genomic information in a realistic way. For instance, several companies are developing AI technologies that can identify when a person’s vocal patterns, facial expressions, and even key biomarkers indicate a change in emotional or mental state.
It’s rather exciting to think of a time in the not-so-distant future when a chatbot has the ability to “notice” that you’re experiencing severe anxiety. Examples, like the three mentioned above, represent only a small sampling of the ways in which AI for healthcare is transforming the industry. These applications do, however, prove that, if done correctly, AI has the potential to dramatically improve the treatment experience for everyone involved, both healthcare professionals and patients.