This article was written by Sanjeev Sawai, Chief Product and Technology Officer at mPulse Mobile, and was originally published on healthcareittoday.com on April 14, 2023.
The expansion and specialization of health networks has made it difficult for most consumers to navigate and advocate for themselves within today’s healthcare organizations.
For the average health consumer, simply identifying in-network providers, requesting a cost estimate, or scheduling a medical test presents a major hassle. Add a chronic condition or difficult diagnosis in the mix and the burden of accessing required care only increases. Over time, unsatisfactory healthcare interactions leave consumers frustrated and burned out, eroding their trust in healthcare organizations’ ability to consistently and reliably provide the care they need.
But there’s a solution that can minimize the strain on consumers and healthcare organizations: AI.
Advances in AI and machine learning (ML), including ChatGPT, offer key opportunities for healthcare organizations to decrease administrative hurdles, enhance communication, and ultimately build stronger relationships with consumers. However, to deliver frictionless, personalized interactions, these tools require organizations to unify historically siloed technology platforms and data on the backend — factors that are often the root cause of consumers’ ongoing frustrations.
Applied at scale, AI tools ensure consumers can access the care they need — and enable healthcare organizations to provide exceptional service that earns consumers’ long-term trust.
Disparate Data Challenges Faster AI Adoption
To work effectively, AI tools require access to data capable of providing a holistic view of individual healthcare consumers. But centralizing data from core systems (including EHRs, CMSs, patient portals, and billing systems) is a difficult, time-consuming task. These efforts are often underfunded by healthcare organizations, resulting in delays that hamper innovation, including AI adoption.
As a result, interoperability ranks among the top three obstacles to innovation, according to healthcare executives and leaders — with many healthcare organizations still struggling to build infrastructure that enables their technology platforms to easily share information. By 2025, less than 30% of healthcare organizations plan to invest in the infrastructure (specifically data activation platforms and data lakes) necessary to achieve full interoperability.
Until foundational interoperability work is complete, healthcare organizations will settle for individual point solutions rather than comprehensive AI solutions capable of creating cohesive consumer experiences across all touchpoints.
The good news is many healthcare organizations already recognize the importance of dismantling entrenched digital fragmentation as a first step toward strengthening cybersecurity and exploring emerging cloud opportunities.Tapping into the benefits of consumer-centric AI tools presents another compelling incentive to fast track digital transformation and redirect resources toward more robust data management solutions.
How AI Builds Trust in Healthcare Organizations
When it’s integrated horizontally across your operations, consumers won’t necessarily realize they’re interacting with AI. It simply becomes an unobtrusive tool that improves access to information and services — strengthening consumer trust one frictionless interaction at a time.
Let’s take a closer look at two key benefits of a seamlessly integrated AI solution:
Cohesion Across Touchpoints
The demand for digital healthcare has exploded over the past few years — and consumers’ expectations for frictionless digital interactions have risen alongside it. But it’s difficult to meet every consumer’s desire for instant, personalized support with people-power alone.
AI-assisted chat capabilities help consumers access relevant medical and administrative information and perform simple tasks, like scheduling an appointment or refilling a prescription, around the clock. Likewise, AI tools can unify disparate operations centers by providing your organization with a single command center. Consumers are never left scouring multiple websites and apps for the information or contact point they’re seeking. Instead, they encounter consistent details no matter where they turn — whether online or in person.
Personalized and Positive Consumer Interactions
Nothing feels more impersonal to a consumer than repeatedly providing information to customer service agents who eventually redirect them to yet another siloed department. People want to be treated as humans, not numbers — especially in such a personal and stressful context as healthcare.
Paradoxically, AI can humanize your organization by offering personalized, useful interactions that drive engagement — and ultimately trust. By integrating insights from consumer data analytics and principles of behavioral science, AI tools enhance day-to-day engagements with consumers and better cater to their unique needs. This could go beyond administrative functions to include automated prompts or tailored text communications about preventive health measures or chronic illness management. For example, a two-way SMS messaging tool powered by AI could remind a consumer that it’s flu season, offer an easy prompt for scheduling an upcoming vaccination appointment, and provide educational resources encouraging vaccination based on a patient’s responses.
AI capabilities are poised to revolutionize the healthcare consumer experience, reducing administrative obstacles and improving communication between providers and patients. But to make AI deployments as effective as possible, your organization must first synthesize siloed technology platforms and data sources to establish a holistic, reliable view of all consumers across all operations centers. This reorchestration requires an initial IT investment, but the potential efficiency gains are enormous. And so are the benefits for consumers.
When implemented effectively at scale, AI tools make it easier for consumers to access healthcare — the first step in fostering a relationship of trust between consumers and their healthcare organizations.
About Sanjeev Sawai
Sanjeev Sawai, Chief Product and Technology Officer at mPulse Mobile, has a passion for building innovative software products. For the last decade and a half, he has led product and technology teams to deliver market-leading products. mPulse is a confluence of Sanjeev’s recent experience in healthcare, and a dozen years of past work in conversational AI and speech applications. Sanjeev has brought to market enterprise grade and SaaS-scale software products in a variety of markets, most notably telecommunications, financial services and healthcare. He has led the development of market-leading products in the voice solutions market and built embedded systems for defense applications. Previously, Sanjeev has held leadership positions in product development at HealthEdge, Altisource, Interactions, Envox, and Brooktrout.