3 Ways Artificial Intelligence Can Streamline Physician Workflows for Faster Care Delivery

Guest Post by Dr. Leo P. Langlois


The majority of us imagine robots taking over our lives completely the moment we hear the term “Artificial Intelligence” (AI). 

Also, because AI-powered programs are designed in a way that enables them to make decisions on the basis of almost negligible human intervention, most of us often find ourselves wondering whether machines will soon replace us humans.

This might be especially true for the healthcare domain. 

Industry experts are of the opinion that AI is set to completely change the way in which healthcare is practiced across the globe in the near future. One recent Accenture report revealed that, when combined, key clinical health AI applications hold the potential to generate an annual saving of  $150bn for the US healthcare economy by 2026.

However, in order to be able to discern what the future of this technology within healthcare will truly look like, one needs to first separate fact from fiction, because AI is already here – and it is slowly transforming every single aspect of medicine.

In this piece, we will be looking at a few ways AI is streamlining care delivery and physician workflows like no other healthcare technology today.

1) Furnishing Accurate Diagnoses at an Early Stage

The greatest advantage of harnessing artificial intelligence technology in healthcare is that it can be leveraged to augment different processes for better outcomes - right from predicting and preventing diseases at an early stage, to congregating and putting valuable patient data to proper use.

Some of the most notable applications of AI on the early disease detection front from recent times have been:

  • IBM Watson, a reliable AI system that has been successful in diagnosing early signs of cancer through a double-blinded validation study;
  • Google’s Deepmind Health, a program that combines neural science with machine learning (ML) technology to build an algorithm that can detect medical conditions early on in the disease cycle;

Some AI programs are helping restore voluntary movement in patients with quadriplegia (a type of spinal cord injury that causes paralysis after an accident) through spinal motor neurons to regulate the prostheses of upper limbs. 

AI systems are also aiding doctors in successfully diagnosing heart disease with the help of cardiac imaging and formulate treatment plans through automated editable ventricle segmentations.

The potential of AI-powered deep learning technologies to examine images thoroughly and trace uniform patterns that often lead to serious disorders at a later time opens up the possibility for doctors to diagnose diseases faster and more accurately. AI-driven software can be programmed in a way that it helps physicians precisely detect signs of a specific disease in medical images such as MRIs, CT Scans and X-rays.

Due to all these reasons and many others, it can be rightly said that artificial intelligence is set to be the future of diagnostics in healthcare.

2) Boosting Patient Engagement for Better Outcomes

AI technology is fast becoming an essential component of the patient care continuum.

Not only has this state-of-the-art solution proven to be instrumental in streamlining physician workflows and, in turn, mitigating burnout, but present-day patients are also accepting it as a means of enhancing outcomes.

According to the results published by Accenture from a recent survey the company conducted, 47% of the total respondents were willing to rely on artificial intelligence when availing healthcare services. This promulgates a more personalized and data-driven approach toward patient care and engagement.

The benefits that come alongside the implementation of AI- right from time and cost savings, increased accessibility, to personalized insights - leave patients with higher satisfaction scores. 

Additionally, as cybersecurity threats to patient data grow in number and severity, patients become more hesitant toward sharing information related to their ailment online. AI is helping providers detect vulnerabilities and respond to data breaches faster and with greater precision. This helps augment their efforts toward boosting patient engagement on an altogether different level.

A few other ways in which AI is helping physicians boost patient engagement and ameliorate outcomes include:

  • Using an AI virtual medical scribe to manage the documentation during patient interactions. This is why I love DeepScribe. You’re free to smile, laugh, and connect with your patients without having to worry about taking a single note. 
  • Ai-powered chatbots are rapidly helping physicians in solving accessibility related issues for patients. They are also playing a critical role in driving a satisfactory and seamless patient experience,
  • The use of AI/ ML algorithms is helping healthcare research institutes mine through the vast troves of patient information (such as data from electronic medical records) available today to acquire intelligent insights and design care plans accordingly,
  • By integrating artificial intelligence with your practice management module, the sections of bottlenecks that lower patient satisfaction levels can be successfully identified and worked upon,
  • Natural Language Processing (NLP), a subset of AI that recognizes text and speech, can be leveraged to convert unstructured data ( such as physician notes, voice memos, etc.) to structured data within the EHR system. This leaves physicians with more time that would have otherwise been spent on doing manual data entry, which can then be used to interact with patients in a better manner.

Apart from the ones mentioned above, there are numerous other ways in which AI is boosting patient engagement for healthcare facilities today.

3) Providing Quality Data for Enhancing the Decision-making Process

Choosing the most appropriate treatment plan among a hundred available options and deciding upon the most relevant method of diagnostics have always been tricky tasks for physicians across specialties.

Oftentimes, the underlying reason behind this is that physicians are expected to do everything at once - right from considering the most visible symptoms of a patient, to contemplating on all the existing treatment methods, potential side effects, diseases with similar symptoms, and a number of other aspects.

Modern solutions powered by AI technology are greatly helping physician practitioners in processing huge amounts of patient data within seconds while simultaneously overcoming research obstacles, and gaining holistic understanding of the patient’s condition. 

Even when the disease is first classified and identified, the treatment process can cause added issues due to underlying conditions. Now, a treatment plan does not simply include prescribing medicines and suggesting lifestyle changes. The ideal treatment plan is one which helps patients manage their health, coordinate their treatment plans, and consider the peril of an adverse event occurring.

Present-day AI/ML algorithms help doctors take an organized approach toward disease management, be it a chronic condition or a short-lived one. 

All in all, AI and its assistive technologies have a number of benefits in store for the healthcare sector. Now is the time that physicians realize the potential this technology holds and start harnessing it within their daily operations. 

Closing Words

AI has the potential to improve physicians’ work efficiency, allowing them to accomplish more as well as create time for them to be involved in other desirable aspects of patient care or even take a deep dive into research. 

Rather than replacing physicians, AI can make their lives easier by reducing the burden of documentation and freeing them up from routine administrative tasks which often contribute to physician burnout. 

A recent AAMC study projected a shortfall between 54,100 to 139,000 physicians in the US by 2033 partly due to the growing elderly patient population in the face of more retiring physicians. AI can prove to be a vital tool in combating the current and projected physician shortage. By increasing the efficiency of healthcare decision making and delivery, AI can not streamline physician workflows and ensure faster care delivery, but it can also boost the efficiency of healthcare delivery. 

Any healthcare organization that is targeting growth needs to constantly be on the lookout for ways they can ameliorate their workflows for enhanced patient outcomes. And this can only be made possible when these organizations aren’t hesitant towards embracing technological innovations. 

About the Author

Dr. Leo P. Langlois is an extensively experienced board certified physician and surgeon, graduated from brown university medical school, completed residency training at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and fellowship trained at University of California Davis with over 27 years of experience treating chronic disabling conditions and chronic intractable pain who has run a successful private practice in Bakersfield, California since 2003.

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