A group of organizations—Amazon, Apple, and Google among others—are blurring the line between the tech field and the healthcare field. One of the key elements in this blurring of the line is the automation of health and human service functions that previously required human work.
This tech-enabled automation is frequently accomplished through bots, which are computer applications that perform automated and repetitive tasks. Common examples include search engine bots, web indexing bots, text-reading algorithms, chatbots and videogame bots.
Some of the great examples of healthcare services using bots include:
- Amazon’s Comprehend Medical: A machine learning service that extracts medical information from unstructured text in electronic health data.
- Woebot: A chatbot resembling an instant messaging service that asks about user moods and thoughts, and uses the answers to learn about the consumer.
- Microsoft Healthcare Bot: A service that facilitates customizable messaging and virtual health assistants.
So, what is the advantage to health and human service delivery in a bot workforce? Speed, reliability, consistency, and cost-effectiveness all come to mind. Sound too far-fetched for your management team? We would disagree.
A recent article, “5 Use Cases For Chatbots In Healthcare” in HIT Consultant, gave some practical ideas about how to leverage bot technology in current health and human service delivery in customer services, consumer outreach, care coordination, triage and treatment services.
Customer Service and Administration—Which parts of your administration could be completely automated? This question often makes healthcare executives uncomfortable. However, there are an increasing number of functions that were previously done by staff that can now be handled by bots, including scheduling appointments, issuing appointment reminders or automated hovering to manage things like prescription medications.
Consumer Engagement—It’s unsustainable to hire staff to constantly keep consumers engaged in their own healthcare. Operating in an on-demand market with elevated consumer expectations and large consumer populations means successful organizations will need to leverage technology to keep consumers engaged, interested and activated in their own care. Chatbots that use artificial intelligence to conduct conversations with consumers via auditory or textual methods can provide a steady stream of medical information that helps engage consumers.
Population Health Management and Care Coordination—How do you deliver value-based care in an accessible and scalable fashion? One solution getting more traction in the field is to automate the outreach and coordination education tools necessary to enhance consumer/provider communication, provider/provider communication, and better manage healthcare experiences across the whole continuum of care. Examples include consumer follow-up, referrals and treatment planning.
Triage—When speed is a concerning factor in diagnoses and treatment, as might be found in an urgent care setting where consumers need to be managed depending on urgency, AI-powered chatbots can help speed the process by prioritizing population health management practices, and managing which consumers are seen and in what order.
Personalized Treatment Plans—Human service organizations are now repositories for a lot of data and turning that data into usable information and/or automated forms of treatment will rely on automating much of the analysis that is currently done by staff. Bots, along with other forms of AI and analysis programs, are at the heart of taking large chunks of data and turning it into actionable information and customized decision support that can help aid in consumer treatment planning.
Tech-enabled service automation has revolutionized many businesses—from travel arrangements and taxi rides, to gasoline pumps and cash dispensing. Health and human services is just behind the curve. Executive teams need to think creatively about how to apply these technologies to their services with an eye on improving value.
Want to learn more about the technologies being leveraged in mental healthcare? Check out the Digital Health edition of the PsychU 360 magazine here.