Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most talked about technologies today. With capabilities ranging from executing a simple task to solving complex problems, AI has become the main driving force behind a range of everyday tasks, from identifying spam emails to helping a taxi driver pinpoint your exact location.
It is no secret that the healthcare industry holds immense amounts of data. When it comes to analysing large data sets, this is where the true value of AI can be shown.
The era of Big Data in healthcare has been brought about by the ubiquity of electronic patient records, the aggregation of information across networks, and the full digitisation of business operations. Healthcare providers are now faced with determining how to best use AI to create efficiencies and improve patient care.
AI has become a spotlight issue for senior executives at hospitals and healthcare companies around the world, who need to make tough technology purchasing decisions to remain competitive.
There is a lot of confusion in the market in terms of which AI capabilities will make a real impact and are "future proof" as the technology evolves. Hospitals and the industry cannot afford to make the wrong decision -- but making no decision is worse. The risks are high, but it is possible to make technology decisions that will result in long-term success.
AI is already becoming more and more prevalent throughout the healthcare field. Some recent examples include:
A large cancer centre uses AI to power a concierge service mobile app that provides information on the quality of food and housing.
Mount Sinai Health System in the United States uses AI to discover previously undetectable conditions in its diabetes patients.
Google AI is being used to check patients' eyes for potential cardiovascular conditions.
Robots help nurses in many hospitals by assisting patients with mobility challenges.
While these examples are exciting, a more viable first step is to look at how AI can support business operations.
PAIRED WITH HUMANS
AI -- and all technology for that matter -- reaches its full potential when paired with humans. When it comes to business, AI can help create efficiencies, such as simplifying the healthcare staffing model to help free up time for doctors and medical staff to focus on more patient-centred activities rather than administrative tasks, such as tending to patient needs and more face time with physicians. When AI is deployed properly, it ultimately results in patients truly becoming the top priority.
Consider chatbots, another form of AI, which can act as office assistants by automating functions. Today, chatbots can provide recommendations 20% faster than a manual search by analysing large sets of data quickly and efficiently. AI can help in various parts of a healthcare organisation such as:
Supply chain: AI can resolve employee questions about supply by tracking unused medical supplies, therefore helping to minimise excess inventory. It can also help to reduce the length of time it takes to search for supplies by providing locations and automating future orders and deliveries.
Self-service: AI is a quick and accurate way to empower cross-functional self-service for employees who are consistently searching for ways to simplify administrative tasks, so that they can focus on their patients even more. By doing things such as answering employee queries on anything from their personal paid time-off balance to the holiday schedule, hospitals will become more care-focused than ever before.
Financials: AI can help hospital accounting departments by augmenting the payment process, detecting payments, identifying invoice patterns, and more. By using AI to handle simple tasks, financial executives can spend more time analysing data to arrive at actionable insights that could help to cut costs.
Not only will this help the productivity of the finance department, it will aid them in becoming more of a strategic partner to the entire business.
Environment: A serene hospital experience is essential to improving patient outcomes and satisfaction. AI can help to maintain equipment by coordinating routine maintenance schedules and providing staff with the information they need to make sure all equipment is always in top-performing condition -- ultimately avoiding downtime and patient frustration.
All of these factors contribute to patients getting the care needed for a successful recovery.
The power of AI in healthcare is only beginning to unfold. While there are endless possibilities, its current impact is in empowering healthcare providers and staff. AI is everywhere, and it is time to start investing in it and using it to our advantage.
Wesley Kowalski is the head of Asean for Infor, a builder of software in the cloud for specific industries, serving 90,000 customers in 170 countries. See www.infor.com