Artificial intelligence (AI) is about to revolutionize healthcare. From reading MRIs to detect cancer to identifying patients who need more help to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions, AI has the potential to improve outcomes in many clinical areas. But what about patient communication?
NHS hospitals interact with thousands of patients every day, and it is this interaction with patients that shapes the experience of their patient care.1:. Good clinical care alone is not enough for a positive patient experience. NHS administrative processes can be burdensome for patients at best, and at worst they can even limit access to care.1:. This can affect clinical outcomes because patients are not engaged in their own care1,2:.
Even the least tech-savvy patients these days are used to having information at their fingertips and are less and less willing to spend precious time waiting on the phone. Many NHS patients have waited months and even years for their treatment with very little communication with their NHS Trust.
So how can hospitals use artificial intelligence to meet patients’ communication and information needs?
The best thing to do when developing an AI-driven digital communications strategy is to start simple and build a solid foundation.
Step 1: Open your digital front door to patients
An AI-powered virtual assistant on the Trust’s homepage, the digital front door, is the perfect start and an easy quick win for the NHS Trust. Patients can use it to check their appointment details, answer simple queries and find out how to get to their appointment. At the same time, the Virtual Assistant can begin to learn what is important to patients locally.
Step 2: Provide an omniscient Assistant
Within months, an AI-powered virtual assistant could evolve into an omniscient assistant for patients that answers complex questions, lets them know how to prepare for their appointments, collects electronic Consent, provides information to aid self-care, and even helps them fill out pre-assessment forms.
Step 3: Self-regulation
Once patients can easily confirm their appointment information, the obvious next step is to move to self-scheduling. Hospital contact centers are very busy, making it difficult for patients to reschedule and cancel appointments when needed. This breeds missed appointments and DNAs, but can be easily remedied by allowing patients to choose their own appointment locations and easily reschedule when circumstances change. 3: .
Step 4: Maximize benefits with robotic process automation (RPA).
Patient and Trust benefits are maximized once the entire communication path is digitized and processes are fully automated. This strategy allows RPA to streamline workflows and minimize the work required of administrative staff while allowing for optimal levels of patient communication at scale.
At the moment, patients can self-apply by chatting to a Virtual Assistant on the Trust’s website. They are automatically contacted periodically to make sure they are doing well and still need an appointment. They reschedule their appointments through the Virtual Assistant and can choose to be contacted when an earlier slot becomes available so they can be seen sooner. Clinicians are notified immediately when a patient reports a bothersome symptom or cancels an essential appointment.
What tools do hospitals need to do this?
The essential tool for this complete automation of communication with patients is a chatbot interface built on top of highly intelligent AI-based solutions. It allows information from the EPR to flow seamlessly between patient conversations and clinical records. Patients can ask questions, fill out forms directly in the EPR, book appointments and receive documents to view from their record, all from the comfort of their living room at 10pm.
The AI-powered virtual assistant works around the clock and handles thousands of conversations at once, ensuring that human staff can focus on caring for more complex patients. With automation, administrators spend less time on tedious tasks like registering patients and uploading information to the EPR. Doctors spend less time filling in forms and patients get a timely response every time they contact their Trust.
Interested in learning more?
Register here to: our upcoming virtual event “The IT Team, the Bot and the Digitally Engaged Patient” to learn more about AI and automation currently in production in the NHS.
We have prepared a large range of speakers such as:
Darren Atkins, CTO – Automation, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust
Andy I Anson, IT Project Manager, Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust
Steve Wightman, Health and Local Commercial Director government, Access Group:
Dr. Gege Gat, CEO, EBO
Paul Boland, Health Director, EBO
- A patient experience of total satisfaction Back Care of cancer patients. proofs Starting Respondents to the English Cancer Patient Experience Survey – Maya Gomez-Cano, Georgios LiratsopoulosGary A Abel, 2020 (sagepub.com)
- Administrator questions. The impact of NHS administration on patient care The King’s Fund (kingsfund.org.uk)
- Impact of digital self-scheduling on rates of no-show events in outpatient clinics (waldenu.edu)