Safeguarding healthcare: A guide to custom AI-powered solutions

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For many healthcare organizations around the world, continuing digital transformation is the only viable path to safeguarding access to care in the face of cost/revenue and staffing pressures. In this blog, we’re examining custom AI-powered solutions that can bring great returns.

Facing challenges with custom and AI-driven solutions

Out of every 20 appointment slots a US physician might have in their schedule, three would typically remain unused. That’s three patients who wouldn’t get access to the help they need and a vast gap of 15% of unused capacity. This healthcare benchmark clearly shows the hidden costs of scheduling challenges. They undermine the efficiency of healthcare organizations and deepen the problem of operational costs outpacing revenues. However, the schedule fill rate also shows just how much opportunity there still exists to achieve excellent returns from continued healthcare digitalization, drawing on technological advancements.

Patient no-shows, physician availability changes, and staffing shortages all compound the scheduling challenges, undermining healthcare systems' efficiency. The digitalization surge in response to the global pandemic in 2020 eased the pressure somewhat. Still, cost-revenue and staffing concerns remain persistent, and many healthcare organizations will require leaps in productivity.  

You can achieve such productivity boosts with solutions relying on different AI tools, from scheduling assistants to resource allocation optimization and predictive algorithms. For most healthcare organizations, the optimal solution for such an investment is a custom solution designed specifically to fit their unique mix of workflows, culture, and digital transformation milestones achieved so far. 

Patients are ready for more digital transformation

The acceleration of healthcare digitalization during the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated how technological innovations can significantly benefit patients and healthcare organizations. With current technological capabilities, healthcare systems can keep pace with this trend and adapt their systems and methods of delivering healthcare.

It’s not just a matter of improving efficiency for your organization but also of fulfilling patient expectations, especially for the younger demographics, and improving access to healthcare.

Recent survey-based insights by Deloitte show us some key trends in patient behavior:

  • 84% of patients who have had a virtual visit would have another virtual visit. Also, younger demographics (Millenials and Generation Z) have a higher increase in the uptake of virtual visits.
  • Nearly 2/3 of patients would use virtual visits for preventive care.
  • Convenient hours drive 30% of patients to choose virtual visits over in-person visits.

Digitalization enables faster access to medical information, optimizes communication between patients and healthcare professionals, and allows personalized care tailored to individual patient needs. 

In addition to meeting patient needs, digitalization also addresses many pain points faced by the healthcare industry. From optimizing administrative processes and improving diagnostic methods to increasing efficiency in monitoring and managing chronic diseases, digitalization offers a wide range of opportunities to enhance the healthcare system.

Recognizing the barriers 

Industry research and market reports show that both patients and healthcare organizations consistently highlight certain pain points. Let's take a closer look at these challenges and explore potential solutions to address them effectively.
The pain points listed by patients are: 

  • difficulty in getting the required healthcare services,
  • challenges of finding an appointment that fits their schedule, and 
  • tedious scheduling process. 

Recognizing pain points is fundamental for healthcare providers and patients. Identifying these challenges allows healthcare organizations to strategically allocate resources and efforts toward addressing them effectively, ultimately leading to enhanced quality of care, improved patient satisfaction, and increased operational efficiency. 

Furthermore, identifying the barriers to efficient healthcare opens the door to innovative solutions and technological advancements tailored to overcome them. By taking advantage of such solutions, healthcare organizations can achieve greater efficiency, streamline processes, and ensure better access to care. In essence, assessing the obstacles and pain points enables your organization to prioritize areas that require the most effort and resources, thus enhancing the quality of care and patient satisfaction.

Custom solutions and AI to the rescue

Staffing shortages and rising costs demonstrate that technological solutions are the only viable path to addressing these challenges. Custom development provides the flexibility to design solutions that cater to the unique needs of healthcare organizations. 

At the same time, AI promises to unlock insights from vast data sets and enable personalized care with improved outcomes. Embracing continued digital transformation through AI-powered tools is vital. Such initiatives are not merely optional enhancements; they are essential tools for healthcare institutions to remain competitive and effective in meeting healthcare delivery demands. 

Now, let's explore how custom software development and AI integration can help you solve some of the common pain points.

Quick access to services

AI-powered appointment scheduling systems can optimize appointment availability and streamline the scheduling process based on patient preferences and physician availability. Such systems can prioritize urgent cases, reduce wait times, and offer flexible scheduling options, ultimately improving patient access to timely care.

Your data can reveal unexpected patterns that can be used to power up a virtuous circle of improving efficiency and enabling quicker access to the required health services. For example, a UK paper recently confirmed a “weekday effect”, with most missed appointments on Mondays and the least on Fridays. Such patterns can be used to optimize resource allocation and reduce the rate of missed appointments. That, in turn, lowers operational costs and improves revenues. Financial and operational efficiencies ultimately improve the availability of timely healthcare services.

Scheduling hassles 

Addressing the two scheduling pain points - the hassle of the scheduling process itself and difficulty finding an appointment time that fits the patient’s schedule - requires innovative solutions that prioritize patient convenience and engagement. 

Custom-developed patient portals, integrated with AI-driven scheduling algorithms, empower patients to effortlessly view available slots and book appointments according to their preferences and schedules. Common functionalities include real-time updates, reminders, and rescheduling options, enhancing patient satisfaction and engagement throughout the scheduling process. 

Additionally, AI-driven virtual assistants or chatbots embedded within healthcare websites or mobile apps streamline the appointment-scheduling process by guiding patients, offering personalized recommendations, and facilitating seamless navigation. These virtual assistants streamline administrative tasks, provide assistance, and ensure a user-friendly scheduling experience, enhancing patient convenience and satisfaction.

Such systems can use anonymized patient data and external information, including traffic, weather, employment, and home and work locations, to predict if someone might miss an appointment and proactively offer an alternative one. An organization’s appointment history and its rules and policies can also be factored in. 

The UK’s NHS has recently announced the expansion of a similar AI-powered system. The regional HNS branch rolling out the solution expects annual savings of £27.5 million, mainly through a 30% decrease in missed appointments. 

Staffing shortages impacting service levels

AI-driven workforce management solutions can help healthcare organizations efficiently allocate staffing resources based on patient demand and optimize staffing schedules to minimize gaps in coverage. Predictive analytics can forecast staffing needs, identify potential shortages in advance, and facilitate proactive recruitment strategies to address staffing challenges.

The shortage of support staff - from front-desk receptionists and call-center staff to admins and invoicing staff - is a top challenge, especially considering the high turnover rates of up to 40%. Patient self-service solutions that reduce their workload by taking over repetitive tasks can make a vital difference. 

Lingering pandemic-related confusion

Custom-developed communication platforms powered by AI chatbots can provide real-time updates and clear, concise information to patients and staff, addressing concerns and providing guidance on pandemic-related protocols. These platforms can streamline communication channels, reduce misinformation, and alleviate confusion, ensuring effective crisis management and coordination.

Difficulty in producing accurate patient cost estimates

AI-driven healthcare financial management systems can analyze patient data, insurance coverage, and treatment plans to generate real-time cost estimates. These systems can factor in variables such as deductibles, co-pays, and coverage limitations to provide patients with transparent and comprehensive cost information upfront, improving financial transparency and reducing billing-related disputes.

Such solutions are especially important for organizations that struggle to hire billing staff and lower their accounts receivable days KPI. 

Unlock the Potential

As the examples above show, custom solutions using AI-powered tools generate multifaceted business benefits acting in synergy to achieve a virtuous circle of enhanced efficiency. 

By leveraging such digitalization solutions, healthcare organizations can address their pain points, enhance patient access, improve service quality, and optimize operational efficiency in the ever-evolving healthcare landscape.

The ongoing digitalization of healthcare is not just a trend but a necessity for the healthcare system's future. Waiting for another trigger event to accelerate this inevitable transition would be counterproductive. Digitalization, custom software development, and AI integration hold immense potential to enhance every aspect of the healthcare system. It is imperative to act now and continue striving towards its advancement to ensure sustainability. 

Recognizing that each organization faces unique challenges and custom solutions tailored to address these specific pain points are essential. By embracing digitalization and investing in innovative technologies, we can revolutionize healthcare delivery and create a more accessible, efficient, and patient-centric system. Undabot team can consult and work closely with you to design and implement these solutions, ensuring seamless integration into your existing infrastructure and workflows. From project inception, solution design, engineering, and AI integration to post-implementation support, we're here to guide you every step of the way. 

Together, we can unlock the full potential of healthcare technology and revolutionize how care is delivered. 

Take the first step towards transforming your healthcare institution today. Contact us for a consultation and learn how we can tailor our solutions to your specific needs.

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