The case for enhancing personalized patient care with artificial intelligence

Providers are facing a perfect storm of forces as they try to adjust to the reality of value-based care.

With 1 in 5 Americans to be over 65 by 2050 (Agency for Health Research and Quality), demand for healthcare services is set to explode. Simultaneously, by 2020, there will be 1.2M nursing vacancies in the US (https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/02/nursing-shortage/459741/) , a trend that will continue to make it more challenging to provide care just to meet current demands. The result: less care for more patients, falling outcomes and reimbursements, and failing provider organizations.

To address these conditions, providers must either hire heavily from overseas, a strategy they won't be able to financially support, or turn to technology. Most of care professionals' time is not spent on patient encounters but on more mundane, administrative tasks. Freeing them from even part of that work would be the equivalent of a staffing increase without a major financial hit. Artificial intelligence represents a key foundation to meet the growing demand for care.

AI applies algorithms, rules, and heuristics to offload administrative and low-level tasks from providers, allowing them to spend more time where they add greater value while expanding the population they can serve. From intake to discharge to recovery, AI improves productivity by automating non-critical actions, allowing providers to focus on activities that have the biggest impact on improving outcomes.

So why hasn't it been more broadly applied? Up until recently, AI for healthcare was not robust enough to handle workloads reliably. Because all health care is centered on actual patients, getting it right outweighs getting it fast. But recent advances in artificial intelligence has made it a proven option to improve productivity and service more patients with better outcomes. In addition, the breadth of channels to interact with the patient has exploded. IVR, messaging, video chat, wearables, apps...all provide a richer patient engagement experience but can add complexity, something AI is ideally suited to handle.

So while the social and demographic trends contribute to a bleak outlook for health care should nothing change, AI represents a compelling technology to alleviate the impact of these trends and allow providers to thrive in the developing environment.

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