Artificial Intelligence Hope – Reinvent the ‘Broken’ Physician-Patient Relationship

BLG02x - edited feature imageThe physician job has become less and less focused on patients, and more and more preoccupied with the administrative and data-entry tasks that require attention and time. A study by the University of Wisconsin and the American Medical Association (AMA) found that primary care physicians spend almost 6 hours on EHR data entry during a typical 12-hour workday to satisfy the requirements of insurance carriers, pharmacy benefit managers, and other documentation, including entering quality and performance metrics.

That’s 6 hours not spent seeing patients, and thus not having the time to listen carefully and diagnose, speak with family members, or explain conditions and next steps. The amount of time physicians spend at their monitors has created a concerning physician-patient imbalance that can be considered a health crisis.

Moreover, the healthcare industry feels increased pressure from the growing doctor deficit — the Association of American Medical Colleges predicts the shortage of physicians in the U.S. will reach an estimated 34,600 to 88,000 doctors by 2025, and A.I. is up to the task to pick up the slack. In fact, the A.I. market is exploding and could reach 6.6 billion U.S. dollars by 2021.

While leading-edge and time-saving A.I. technology is no panacea to fix the ‘broken’ physician-patient relationship, it still offers hope. “Doctors are too distracted and overwhelmed to truly connect with their patients, and medical errors and misdiagnoses abound,” reads a description of the book posted to Amazon. “By freeing physicians from the tasks that interfere with human connection, A.I. will create space for the real healing that takes place between a doctor who can listen and a patient who needs to be heard.”

“AI doesn’t rise to the level of human intelligence or pose a meaningful threat to human workers. Once you understand what you can’t solve with AI, you’ll see just what you can,” K.R. Sanjiv, Chief Technology Officer for Wipro, said.

AI will only augment physicians’ daily tasks, making medical practitioners better at what they do. Accenture estimates work time savings of 17% for doctors and 51% for registered nurses generated from voice-to-text transcription, while robotics-assisted medicine can help reduce the length of hospital stays by up to 21%.

For radiologists, many of whom are examining up to 100 images daily while working 10- to 12-hour shifts, AI-driven image analysis promises to alleviate workloads, streamline workflow, and reduce errors. Studies show a statistically significant decline in the accuracy of image assessments after 8 hours of work, underscoring the need for new technologies. Still not convinced? Keep reading and you’ll find out.

A.I. is transforming healthcare

The truth is that A.I. is already a part of our lives, and it’s getting increasingly sophisticated at doing what doctors do, but more efficiently and more quickly. Remarkably, according to a recent report by Tractica, A.I. health market growth is expected to reach 34 billion U.S. dollars worldwide by 2025. Sounds impressive, right? What’s more, the partnership between A.I. and physicians in the healthcare landscape is getting more mainstream, as more doctors investigate and adopt it into their own practice. Health AI-powered solutions present opportunities across a diverse set of healthcare – whether it is diagnostics or virtual nurses.

In fact, Accenture analyzed the A.I. applications in healthcare in terms of estimated potential annual benefits by application by 2026. The top three applications that represent the most significant value are the following:

  • Robot-assisted surgery ($40 billion) that provides doctors with real-time operating metrics enhancing their instrument precision
  • Virtual nursing assistants (20 billion U.S. dollars) that remotely assess the patient’s symptoms and deliver alerts to clinicians reducing unnecessary hospital visits and lessening the burden on medical professionals
  • Administrative workflow assistance (18 billion U.S. dollars) that helps to eliminate non-patient care activities including writing chart notes, prescriptions and ordering tests. This equates to a work time savings of 17% for doctors, and 51% for registered nurses

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Let me give you an example: Mabu is a humanoid robot developed to help patients keep on top of at-home treatment for congestive heart failure. It acts as a personal health assistant, asks patients how they are feeling, makes activity suggestions and provides medication reminders to make sure they never miss their doses. What’s more, it can save 20% of time through avoided unnecessary clinicians’ or nurses’ visits.

As you see above, A.I. applications offer the prospect to reshape the ‘physicians-patients’ relationships by allowing doctors to spend more time with patients and leveraging tailored A.I. solutions to direct care plans.

How A.I. helps to reinvent the ‘broken’ physician-patient relationship

The fact is that A.I. in health enables machines to sense, comprehend, act, and learn, creating more opportunities to reinvent the ‘broken’ physician-patient relationship primarily by reducing administrative burden and make them more meaningful and productive. Are you interested? So let’s take a closer look:

Automating Clinical Records

Using A.I. to complete clinical documentation tasks is an especially promising capability, according to the American Medical Association. With AI-powered solutions, there is an ability to analyze a physician’s ‘free-text’ and unstructured clinical notes, extract relevant information, and fill in the appropriate structured data fields on a chart. AI-equipped computers understand and interpret human speech and writing providing an opportunity to dramatically reduce the non-care burden on physicians, while also improving accuracy and insight to help doctors better understand and uncover disease-symptoms relationships. As a result, they will work smarter, become more involved in direct care, and spend more time with patients.

Intelligent Dictation

Poor dictation quality meant that doctors would have to edit transcripts for accuracy, adding to instead of reducing workloads. A.I. voice dictation is a major time-saver: speaking aloud is far quicker and less prone to errors. Integrating voice-to-text solutions allows the entire medical team to save countless hours on typing, tracking lost files, printing documents, and organizing volume of paperwork. Voice dictation tools with numerous options can free up hours from a nurse or physician’s workday – the medical professionals can go from a stressed workplace to connect with patients and foster an effective patient experience.

Better Decision-Making

The amount of healthcare data is increasingly growing, and there is a need for greater diagnostic accuracy. AI-powered algorithms can be combined with extraordinary volumes of data to make them more useful and help patients and doctors be more proactive in their healthcare. Also, A.I. makes medical equipment smarter, imaging results faster, and examinations more precise. Medical professionals get proven data for more efficient diagnostics and informed insights. A.I. will enable a world of data where one patient’s history is transformed through insights gathered from the cohort. It helps to promise each patient the personalized healthcare and provides splendid opportunities for physicians to make more informed, evidence-based decisions and create more successful treatment plans. The reality is that the bigger this healthcare data gets, the more empowered physicians are to make better decisions.

Medical Image Analysis

Currently, image analysis is very time-consuming for doctors. Automated image analysis will ease the burden on radiologists by eliminating the need for them to closely examine every image to find any anomalies. Instead, physicians will only need to concentrate on images that AI-powered algorithms flag as required attention. AI-driven image analysis software helps radiologists and other clinicians to spend less time on screening images and instead focus on decision-making and diagnosing. Most importantly, non-radiologist physicians with digital assistance will be able to interpret medical images without relying on hospital radiology specialists. So what does all this mean?

Bottom line:
Is A.I. a game-changer for the physician-patient relationship?

The drumbeat of A.I. in healthcare is not because it could replace physician tasks, but because it could reinvent the ‘broken’ physician-patient relationship: by replacing non-clinical tasks, automating clinical records, creating faster screening medical images, and making more informed decisions.  Can this really be true? Yes! In recent years, the rapid progress of A.I. technology has started to fulfill this promise – it helps to make faster and better diagnoses and more effective treatments, save more lives and cure more diseases. Most importantly, it helps to reinvent the ‘broken’ physician-patient relationship. After all, A.I. is the future of healthcare.

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About Alexandra Zelenko

Alexandra Zelenko is a Marketing and Technical Writer at DDI Development, a company that provides web and mobile digital solutions for a wide range of business expertise, such as Healthcare, Recruitment, Fintech, CRM, E-learning and Logistics.

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