Image illustrating the main phases of patient's journey

Personalised & Efficient Patient Journey

Source – Adapted from Microsoft Blog Series

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming the way people access care, nonetheless a lot of people do not fully trust AI in healthcare. The technology should not make clinicians redundant but support healthcare professionals in making more informed decisions leading to better outcomes.
There are applications that provide access to primary care services by enabling patients to discuss their symptoms using a chatbot, to help ensure the patient’s receive the care they need.
Such applications use Symptom Assessment tools based on complex datasets analysed using clinical algorithms developed over many years. There are thousands of possible unique outcomes, including a safety net for more urgent clinical conditions. The output is the digital equivalent of the familiar face-to-face consultation but enables convenient medical care, particularly for people who struggle to attend physical appointments.

Refining the AI-enabled patient journey

These applications analyse the clinical accuracy of outcomes and the patients’ behaviours during the assessment. For instance if a certain number of patients pause at a particular question, the algorithm may indicate confusion and the need to simplify the experience. By switching to more accessible, patient language, such as changing ‘abdominal pain’ to ‘stomach ache’, more patients complete their assessments.
The chatbots in these applications update using Machine Assisted Learning, which helps healthcare professionals improve the patient experience using digital technology and their clinical expertise.

AI and machine learning can help healthcare professionals enhance their patient care and empower patients to find the right treatment path. The technology provides population and algorithmic improvement data, while clinicians evaluate and verify whether it’s appropriate to make those changes. This approach maintains the human interface and clinical oversight while making using of modern analytical technology.

Unlocking the digital front door with AI

A patient’s journey doesn’t end after their online assessment, it’s just beginning. Based on the analytics collected, these applications personalise healthcare advice that’s right for that patient. The advice may be to prompt users to book a face-to-face or video consultation with a GP or direct them to visit the appropriate health services in the local area.
Such applications help create a framework for joined-up care that can evolve into Integrated Care Systems, where GP practices work alongside community-based providers. This allows the delivery of personalised patient care at scale. In additional to improvements to patients’ well-being, this technology also helps healthcare professionals save time and money, leading to increased productivity and more efficient resource management.
This technology is improving health literacy enabling more people to access the most appropriate health services for their needs which makes a huge impact on demand. For example patients are actually directed to self-care, easing demand on healthcare practitioners’ time. Furthermore such platforms can have service finder functionality to locate exactly the service they need, when they need it.

Building Trust

The analytics underpinning this technology enables the continual improvement of a patient-centric experience. Data analysis of behavioural patterns revealed a hold up during online booking, by changing how appointments were offered, bookings increased from 32% to 76%.
Assessment of feedback from patients revealed a website that didn’t communicate what the platform did, how it worked or instill a sense of trust. A subsequent redesign of the user interface significantly improved patient engagement.

Such data-driven tweaks have a major impact on how patients perceive their overall journey. Digital health tools are driving a radical change in the approach to care. It’s vital that patients are guided and supported by these new technologies that delivers a comfortable excellent user experience.
These platform solutions must to be simple to use, intuitive, easy to implement and interoperable, allowing integration with existing healthcare systems. To convince professionals to use such systems these technologies must ease the pressure on time poor clinicians and improve outcomes.
Research shows that 94% of GPs think clinician involvement is important to the development of digital services used in primary care. Technology should not aim to replace healthcare professionals, but empower all the stakeholders to be better.

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