Are We Ready for the Care Team of the Future?

Are We Ready for the Care Team of the Future?

For those of us in healthcare technology, there have been two very exciting research reports released in the last few weeks. This research was from two different organizations, on a similar topic (AI / Automated Patient technology). Interestingly, this research was gathered from two different points of view?... one was focused on insights from healthcare executives, and the other summarizing the view of the consumer.

The World Business Research (WBR) Group released its report titled “Healthcare 2020: How Automated Patient Experiences Will Transform the Landscape” and Accenture’s digital health consumer report is called “Meet Today’s Healthcare Team: Patients + Doctors + Machines.” While I encourage you to read both reports, I want to highlight a few key high-level commonalities in the reports’ findings.

1) Moving from Idea to Interest
There is a major shift underway from manual to automated patient engagement. Leading healthcare executives and consumers are done talking about the idea of using technology to improve health. They are ready to buy into the innovative solutions making their way to the market. Both reports show a growing interest in automated technology, like “Conversational AI” to make care management programs more dynamic, efficient, and personalized.

74% of healthcare executives are interested in using automated healthcare/ AI technology to bridge key gaps in the care experience.
At the same time, 75% of consumers surveyed said using automated technology to help them in managing their health is very important.
Accenture’s research suggests that “…emerging technologies are shifting the composition of the care team. Consumers are increasingly using digital technologies to manage their own health, they are adopting virtual care, and they see the advantages of harnessing the collective power of humans and machines.”

2) Identifying a Wide Range of Benefits, Value, and Convenience
Organizations like Northwell Health, Ochsner Health, and Atrium Health are leading the way as early adopters of automated patient experience technology to bridge traditional care gaps and streamline the patient health journey.

These personalized conversation touch points are allowing patients to remain engaged in the relationship with their care team, and importantly, remain activated in their personal health. Benefits from this new level of collaboration are viewed as wide ranging and are strongly felt for both patients and providers. From increased engagement to medication adherence to better patient outcomes to stronger loyalty — the value of this technology shows immense potential.

The WBR Study revealed the healthcare executive perspective:

87% stated that this technology helps a patient better engage in their care.
84% stated that this technology can lead to more efficient care coordination between care teams and patients.
72% thought this technology could lead to better patient loyalty.
At the same time, the Accenture study revealed:

73% of patients would like to leverage this kind of technology to engage with their provider outside of the office.
65% said they would leverage virtual interaction for a follow up appointment after seeing a doctor.
57% said they chose an intelligent digital health coach.

In the WBR report, Sven Gierlinger, Chief Patient Experience Officer at Northwell Health, reflects on the healthcare experience: “I like to look at other industries and what they have done to engage their customers. They have retrained the consumer in how to interact with the business in a very short period of time. What’s important today is time convenience. I like that I can make my airline reservation on my phone and check in on the same device. I don’t have to have someone assign my seat, I can do that myself on the app. I can walk right onto the plane. We’re at that point in healthcare where we still have expectations to make the call to a call center, go somewhere to check in, and fill information out on a clipboard. All of this can be automated from the follow up through reminders to automated accommodations with the patient. The streamlined customer journey is something that as an industry, we can learn a lot from. We can retrain ourselves and our patients to expect this level of convenience.”

3) Adoption and Action
Healthcare executives and consumers are done talking about using technology — they are taking action.

An overwhelming majority of executives feel that automated healthcare will play an important role delivering the promise of more targeted patient outreach, more coordinated care management and delivering more value to the patient.

The WBR report stated “Ultimately, automated healthcare is going to become an increasingly common area of development for healthcare providers, and as it becomes more common, old standards and ideas of provider-patient relationships will be replaced with a new approach that seeks to provide continuous care for patients, as well as develop the ability to gather and act on more patient-generated healthcare data.”

Healthcare executives are picking up the pace. Over half of them will have integrated automated healthcare solutions by the next 12 months, indicating significant implications around the direction of automated healthcare solutions as a competitive advantage.

Additionally, healthcare consumers see advantages in AI-powered health services. The consumer report shows that consumers are more readily adopting technology that automates processes or judgments previously carried out by humans. Patients like the availability, time savings and personalized insights delivered in an automated platform.

Healthcare consumers say they are likely to use a variety of intelligent health technologies, including home devices that test blood for a variety of indicators (66%), intelligent virtual health assistants (61%) and virtual nurses that monitor their health condition, medications and vital signs at home (55%).
When asked whether they would use an artificially intelligent virtual doctor provided by their health service, nearly half (47 percent) say they would use it because it is available whenever they need it.
Nearly one in five consumers (19 percent) have used health services that are powered by AI, such as virtual clinicians and home-based diagnostics.
This market research clearly shows that the patient experience is transitioning from episodic in-person visits to personalized, continuous virtual conversations that incorporate valuable patient generated health data (PGHD) into patient care. Conversational AI is enabling this transition by automating patient engagement and collecting PGHD for key initiatives, including care coordination, population health management, patient acquisition, and satisfaction.

It is reinforced multiple times across both studies that using intelligent technologies, sharing data and allowing a combination of man and machine is powering a new model of healthcare. Again, from Accenture’s research: “It is no exaggeration to describe this as the emergence of a new era in healthcare. Patients, machines and doctors can work together to improve the accessibility, effectiveness and affordability of healthcare.”

So, are we ready for doctors, patients and machines to be the new collaborative care team of the future? It appears so!