We all know staffing and supplies are limited.
What are the capabilities now for software, robotics and artificial intelligence to help?
Remote doctor visits via video such as Zoom are reducing patient exposure to doctors and other staff who may carry and transmit the SARS-Cov-2. This is a clearly a huge benefit to all, but especially to at-risk populations, such as seniors, especially those with comorbidities such as cancer, or even simply arthritis.
Personal contact that could spread the coronavirus are reduced by automating and coordinating care-team tasks, Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, chief clinical officer at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett in Washington state, tells Forbes.
Can AI Help?
“We are at the very beginning of AI really expanding and exploding.” Sarah Swank, a healthcare lawyer for Nixon Peabody LLP, thinks the capabilities of AI are poised for rapid growth amid the public health crisis as she described last month at the American Telemedicine Association’s annual conference.
Artificial intelligence solutions are making their first big impact by streamlining care team workflows and helping reduce clinician burnout, but another immediate impact that AI can help with is chatbots.
When coronavirus hotlines were introduced earlier this year, they quickly become overwhelmed, with callers experiencing peak wait times averaging around 30 minutes and many hanging up before an operator could respond.
Some healthcare providers realized that AI chatbots might be able to handle this problem, and quickly implemented chat automation.
After seeing an early success with chatbots was realized at Providence St. Joseph Health when they implemented online screening and triage, Mass General Brigham rolled out a similar AI-based chatbot Partners HealthCare COVID-19 Screener, which asks patients questions based on CDC recommended screening guidelines, enabling Mass General Brigham experts to differentiate between possible COVID-19 cases and less threatening ailments.
Although the chatbot is new, project team members write in the Harvard Business Review that they expect it to “alleviate high volumes of patient traffic to the hotline, and extend and stratify the system’s care in ways that would have been unimaginable until recently.”