Muddu Sudhakar, CEO & Co-founder, Aisera Leveraging Conversational AI to Automate and Improve Healthcare Provider Service Desks
As industries like grocery and retail, hospitality and education all rebuild post-COVID, we are recognizing that how we do business, how we work and even how we get healthcare is forever changed. The healthcare industry continues to face enormous change as the pandemic continues, including unending numbers of admissions and a healthcare worker shortage. In the U.S. and other countries, it pushed many workers to the brink, adding stress and uncertainty to a vital industry. Specific to the U.S. and nurses, several factors drive the shortage: a third of nurses are nearing retirement age, the impacts of COVID-19, and a broader need for healthcare services (and staff),suchas the aging population that will no longer occupy the workforce.
A report from McKinsey titled “Transforming healthcare with AI: The impact on the workforce and organizations,” notes “Health systems also need a larger workforce, but although the global economy could create 40 million new health-sector jobs by 2030, there is still a projected shortfall of 9.9 million physicians, nurses and midwives globally over the same period, according to the World Health Organization.” The shortage’s scale means healthcare providers need to take steps today to offer incentives for workers and find ways to streamline their operations through automation.
Hospital IT systems leaders and administrators are managing overworked systems and have difficulty finding enough human capital to handle admissions, appointments and ER calls. There’s an opportunity for change through technology that can manage tasks that previously required human intervention.
Reducing Manual Workloads
With the healthcare worker shortage posing significant problems for providers and the patients under their care, there’s an opportunity for technology to offload some administrative tasks. Things like appointment booking—where changes still happen over the phone—as well as admissions functions and other non-emergency inquiries demand significant staff time. With many hospitals employing a pay-by-the-contract model for support, there’s different costs for email, chat, phone, or self-service, with the latter being the cheapest. Most support requests are for simple knowledge, documentation inquiries, or for a workflow request. As much of the world shifted to remote work and telehealth during the pandemic, this placed resource strain on providers to handle medical record access requests, appointments and even EMS calls.
Healthcare providers receive upwards of 100,000 tickets per month, which requires a sizable number of agents to handle various patient requests. Most leverage systems like ServiceNow as a knowledge base and ticket manager, and then use an email, phone, and chat provider to receive and process requests.
New technologies such as conversational AI give providers a way to streamline their self-service models.
The Conversational AI Opportunity
Conversational AI is a type of artificial intelligence and machine learning that involves automated understanding, categorization and management of spoken and written data. Conversational AI, such as the advanced platform offered by Aisera, provides organizations with a tool to drastically improve self-service tools. According to the McKinsey report “AI can lead to better care outcomes and improve the productivity and efficiency of care delivery. It can also improve the day-to-day life of healthcare practitioners, letting them spend more time looking after patients and in so doing, raise staff morale and improve retention.”
In a healthcare setting, the Aisera AI Service Desk can provide intelligent and contextual responses to provide patients with immediate answers. And the system recognizes the need for human intervention by understanding exceptions along with human language sentiment and context. So, it can route questions to the appropriate person/department, whether it’s the pharmacy for a dosing question or the IT staff for a health records login reset.
Beyond conversational AI and the AI Service Desk, there’s a range of areas for AI to transform healthcare. This includes powering apps for patients to manage their vitals and care, predictive analytics that can gauge admissions and resource loads, cancer detection tools and a host of others.
Impactful Results to Improve Operations
With Aisera, a healthcare provider can offload workloads from overwhelmed staff members, allowing hospitals and clinics to reduce operational expenses. Service staff can instead focus their efforts on more complex problems that directly improve patient outcomes and satisfaction. The Aisera platform integrates into hundreds of existing environments, and can pull information from multiple knowledge bases, to provide people with the right information at the right time. Providers save considerable time by automating support requests, ticketing, routing and final resolution. And for patients and caregivers, they’re empowered through simpler access to needed information. They also lower their frustrations by scheduling and changing appointments and managing their own admissions, a needed improvement as we navigate our drastically changed work environments.
Results from a large national healthcare provider’s usage of the Aisera AI Service Desk indicate upwards of 75 percent automated ticket resolution. This rate of success reduced operational costs while also improving the patient experience. It’s a crucial part of a provider’s digital transformation efforts, moving away from manual processes and enabling digital communication and process tools, while still offering personal touches. The ease-of-integration for the Aisera platform removes headaches and additional costs from providers’ IT staff, allowing them to focus attention on other systems that improve outcomes and save lives.