Natural language processing tools driven by artificial intelligence (AI)—the most well-known being ChatGPT—are poised to revolutionize the ways we do business and live our lives. Without question, these tools will affect your medical practice. The question is how.
The short answer: It will make your life easier. This applies whether you are a physician, clinical provider, or practice administrator.
A long and winding road back to patient-centered care
Since the electronic health record was introduced, much of the emphasis in health IT has been on getting data into computer systems to support billing and regulatory compliance. Requirements from third-party payers and government regulators continue to expand, which means providers and office staff must spend more and more time entering data. This inevitably means less time to focus on other aspects of care.
With the coming AI revolution, healthcare providers can expect to spend less time entering data and wrestling with software. In the next, fast-approaching era of healthcare technology, AI integrated with your EHR could help you:
- Minimize keyboard strokes and mouse clicks
- Access specific data points you need at the point of care
- Utilize physician’s notes faster and more effectively—AI will pull out the actionable items and provide recommendations for providers and staff regarding next steps
- Gain new insights for patient care by crowdsourcing and analyzing mountains of information fed into your health IT platform
One good example of how AI can affect the day-to-day lives of providers is prior authorization. An office staff member may ask an AI-enabled device, “Provide the ICD-10 codes and HCPC codes I need to get this patient pre-authorized for an MRI by Blue Cross and Blue Shield.” Next, the program takes the relevant data points from the physician’s notes, the patient’s health record, and past experience with pre-authorizations to produce the answer. Potentially, this process could be automated to work directly with the insurance company's system to generate approvals much faster and more efficiently.
Hassle-free value-based care
Every day, more patients are moving into Medicare and Medicare Advantage. This growing patient population will be managed under value-based care programs, which emphasize overall value and the achievement of outcomes rather than just rewarding the volume of services. Measuring and tracking patient outcomes are key components of value-based care.
To transform the healthcare system, value-based care relies on rules and regulations to guide measurement of performance, use of quality metrics, and other program components. AI-enabled solutions excel with rules-based systems. They can process and execute predefined rules with remarkable efficiency and accuracy. Because of this, AI is perfectly suited to support the physician in performing administrative tasks to meet the requirements of value-based care. AI-enhanced value-based care solutions will streamline workflows and reduce the physician’s administrative workload.
Connect to patients in powerful new ways
By cutting data entry time, AI-based solutions can free up providers for longer, more in-depth patient education and counseling. To further support these efforts, AI can provide more personalized messaging to reinforce provider education during the days, weeks, and months when the patient is away from your office.
Physicians and other healthcare providers commonly recommend lifestyle changes for patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes and coronary artery disease, but ultimately the outcome hinges on patient compliance. The patient may lack motivation to make lifestyle changes. Even a motivated patient may struggle with change. AI can analyze individual patient data, such as medical history, current health condition, and lifestyle factors, to generate personalized educational content.
As one example, an AI-powered mobile app can send notifications reminding the patient to take their medication at key times. Such an app could track medication adherence patterns and use this information to provide highly personalized support based on the patient’s behavior patterns.
As another example, imagine a patient diagnosed with anxiety whose smartwatch registers an elevated heart rate. That event and location data could be sent to an app where an AI engine would correlate the data with the patient’s health history and behavioral patterns, determine what events most likely triggered the elevated heart rate, and provide personalized suggestions to lower anxiety. For example, the app could suggest actions such as practicing deep breathing or shutting down their computer and going for a walk. The app could encourage the patient to watch a short, calming video.
Operating behind the scenes
AI already affects our lives in many ways, but people are often unaware of it. One of the first things many people do in the morning is to reach for their phone, oftentimes unlocking it with face ID—one of many examples of AI-based technology in everyday life.
By reducing administrative task load and personalizing patient messaging, healthcare technology companies now have an opportunity to give new vitality and energy to the patient-provider relationship—with AI operating behind the scenes. It is a refreshing turning point in the evolution of healthcare technology. Health IT can bring ambulatory care closer to its roots in care for the human person.
In the not-too-distant future, providers will be relieved of much of their time-consuming data entry tasks. They will be able to dedicate more of their time to doing what they got into healthcare to do in the first place—deliver excellent care and better people’s lives. AI can bring this vision to reality.
With AI undergoing exponential growth, this doesn’t even scratch the surface of its potential. Forecasting the many possible applications for healthcare goes well beyond the scope of this blog post. While growth of AI holds immense promise for ambulatory care, it is crucial for healthcare technology developers and vendors to approach its integration thoughtfully, addressing ethical considerations and ensuring proper training and support for providers and office staff who will use it.
By doing so, we can bring about a new era of patient-centered care, where technology serves as a catalyst for nurturing the human connection at the heart of ambulatory practice. As amazing as these natural language processing tools such as ChatGPT are, people are more amazing and worth the investment in time, money, and creativity in developing solutions that improve upon care delivery.
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