The healthcare industry is the third largest in the United States, accounting for 19.7% of spending within the U.S. economy in 2020 alone. Yet despite being such an essential part of our lives, healthcare is typically the slowest to adopt new technologies that could improve it.
This failure to adopt new technology affects more than just care delivery and patient outcomes. The already-rampant problem of healthcare burnout has been exacerbated by the intense demands placed on healthcare workers during the height of the pandemic. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) estimates that this prevalence of burnout will lead to a shortage of roughly 139,000 physicians by 2033. With the potential of even greater pressures bearing down on the industry in the near future, what can be done to address healthcare’s tech deficiencies before the consequences take their toll?
Through artificial intelligence (AI), we can transform not only how we handle patient data but change the way medical professionals work — creating better workflows, improving preventive care, and identifying opportunities to steer the industry in new and exciting directions.
The last time healthcare underwent a major change in tech was roughly 13 years ago, when the Meaningful Use initiative mandated the use of EMRs and EHRs. While EHRs certainly aren’t perfect, the industry-wide shift towards using this new technology radically changed how providers handle patient data for the better.
The industry is long overdue for another update; the more resigned healthcare becomes to the status quo, the more patient outcomes and medical innovation will stagnate. From time-consuming administrative tasks to inconsistent treatment plans, healthcare is awash with obstacles that AI and its machine learning capabilities have the power to overcome.
Whether transforming how we use clinical data to improve outcome management or generating revenue through early detection and intervention treatments, AI is already being used to predict population health risks, optimize workflows, and even inspire physicians to develop new ways of diagnosing certain conditions.
How AI Is Improving Healthcare
AI has yet to see widespread use within the industry, but it’s gaining traction. As more and more organizations recognize the undeniable value of this technology, healthcare can begin to leverage it to drive true, quantifiable change across the entire sector. Some of that change is happening right now — as physicians use AI-enabled technology platforms to improve areas such as:
Clinical Decision Support
From early detection to identifying patterns in risk groups, many aspects of medicine can benefit from the predictive nature and undiscerning eye of machine learning. As AI-driven clinical decision software grows over time, its intelligence will only continue to improve and create means for developing more personalized and preventive treatments.
In the case of clinical decision support, AI is aiding medical professionals by optimizing workflows through:
Medical Image Analysis – AI can boost the efficiency and accuracy of processes such as medical image analysis by examining images and comparing them to previous data. Through this comparative analysis, AI-driven software can detect abnormalities or flag potential issues to providers so they may investigate them further.
Natural Language Processing – AI can use natural language processing in tandem with machine learning to translate and automate clinical documentation. This capability results in less administrative work for providers and more time to diagnose and strengthen physician-patient relationships.
Big data is driving incredible innovations in population health management. Health systems, providers, and payers have access to massive sources of clinical data: age, ethnicity, location, health history, medications, behaviors, and much, much more. By de-identifying, categorizing, and analyzing this data, AI can uncover paths that lead to more positive outcomes while keeping patient privacy at the center.
Through predictive analytics, AI can define patterns between different groups to improve care delivery. Understanding the commonalities amongst patients with varying comorbidities can help healthcare professionals detect risk patterns, establish more standardized treatment plans, and intervene before costly readmission or invasive care becomes necessary.
Data-driven population health management benefits everyone from the patients and physicians to hospitals and executive-level leadership. By bolstering patient outcomes through enhanced care delivery or improving cost savings by finding patterns in hospital admission rates, AI is paving the way for the healthcare industry to make a better, more meaningful impact moving forward.
What the Future Holds
AI has a lot of potential to transform the healthcare industry, yet many are still hesitant to embrace the new technology. When organizations first transitioned to electronic medical records, everything from the IT infrastructure to how clinicians communicated with one another had to be completely overhauled. Undergoing a technology transformation isn’t easy — but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.
As we move into the future, we can expect AI to continue encouraging ingenuity in powerful, groundbreaking ways. We’re already seeing some of AI’s potential come to life, with industry leaders such as Mayo Clinic taking a unique approach to leveraging AI. Mayo Clinic is likely one of the first in healthcare to merge data analytics with digital health to draw from AI’s capabilities and stop certain diseases before the patient even knows they’re at risk.
The exciting possibilities of AI are only just emerging — and if we want to get healthcare on board, we must establish better models that make AI more accessible. With the right guidance and talent, everyone from major health systems to payers can implement AI-enabled solutions and usher in a new era for the industry.
Lead Healthcare’s AI Revolution with SEI
AI has already made its way into the healthcare industry, and those on the cutting-edge are already reaping its benefits.
If you want to join the revolution of AI-enabled tech in healthcare, turn to the experts at SEI. We’ve successfully helped organizations of all sizes embrace cutting-edge technology platforms. We take the time to understand your clinic’s goals, pain points, and culture so that we can overcome the barriers to adoption together and develop a change plan that works for you.
Give yourself a competitive advantage and join the group of pioneers already leading the way with AI in healthcare. Reach out to us today and learn how improving your IT infrastructure using AI can help you refocus your patient-centered care.