Artificial intelligence continues to be a desirable topic to discuss when new technology trends come up in conversation. The thought of having machines do human work without sick days or overtime pay is appealing to many executives, but some industries still have mixed feelings about AI. In healthcare, hospitals are uncertain if AI is safe in a care setting where a patient's well-being is at stake. However, there are several benefits of artificial intelligence that don't involve direct patient contact.
There has been tremendous progress made in AI in the last five years. Vendors ranging from startups to tech giants have introduced services and products with machine learning, natural language processing and deep learning to address many healthcare-related challenges. AI can assist with cancer diagnosis, insurance claims processing and fraud detection, or help patients track their medications.
Despite the popularity and benefits of artificial intelligence, hospital executives are still asking the fundamental questions around how and where to apply AI in its current state within their facilities. To help answer that question, leadership must understand the current state of AI, its capabilities and limitations. Here are five areas that hospital leaders must know about when it comes to AI.
AI has matured exponentially
It comes as no surprise that healthcare is already using AI in several areas, such as medical image analysis and smart robotics in surgery. AI has proven itself as a trend beyond just the R&D or startup stage. AI has undergone a significant amount of testing and evaluation by those in the healthcare field, and over time has earned itself credibility. Healthcare executives can confidently look at this technology today and accept that it has reached a level of maturity that makes it an appropriate investment for the organization.
AI is already in patients' homes
Voice-enabled assistants that use AI have entered the homes of many patients. This technology provides hospitals with an opportunity to reach patients in their homes to provide additional health services and be in touch with at-risk patients. Hospitals would agree that being able to stay connected with patients post-discharge is a valuable capability that can reduce costly hospital readmissions and improve patient outcomes.
AI can target new patients
Whether a health system is for-profit or not, attracting and providing care for new patients within their network is a key goal. AI has gained popularity across marketing departments that are responsible for reaching those new patients. Through the use of machine learning and AI applications, marketing specialists can accurately target new patients.
There are several benefits of artificial intelligence that help marketing departments target potential new customers. AI can apply different algorithms that analyze demographics data, care access, and historical admission data to define the ideal prospects. AI can also identify those who would likely seek healthcare services in the area and allow the hospital to target them with different campaigns.
AI will replace some jobs
One of the most popular AI-related headlines is its potential to replace many jobs in the future. While healthcare will likely see some positions eliminated in customer service, billing and administration, this should not be the area healthcare executives focus on. Instead, hospital leaders should consider the benefits of artificial intelligence in certain job roles. The ability to replace human activities with AI frees up resources to perform other tasks and activities that only humans can do.
More healthcare data means better AI
With the increase in EHR use, hospitals have more patient data than ever. This creates a unique opportunity for AI to mine the information available and turn it into valuable insights that help support clinical and business decisions for hospitals.
Hospital executives have the opportunity to adopt AI within their organization to solve a number of different challenges. The abilities to attract more patients and to interact with patients in their homes are just two examples of areas where AI can be used. But investing in AI can also be risky since not all of the options available in the marketplace have been fully vetted, and hospital IT, as well as other hospital decision-makers must ensure privacy issues and security are addressed.
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