Maciej Malenda, Head of Partnerships at Infermedica, explains how telemedicine and AI can help save time and money in the healthcare industry
Telemedicine and AI are expected to benefit the industry beyond the pandemic.
It is undeniable that Covid-19 has illuminated the promise of artificial intelligence (AI) in the healthcare world. Not so long ago, telemedicine was considered more fashionable than reality – but the pandemic has put it in the spotlight. Telemedicine, which is part of the larger telehealth framework, has improved access to health care; one step further, AI-based symptom verification improved preliminary diagnosis and triage.
It’s now clear that telehealth has the power to transform the patient-physician relationship, so it’s no surprise that in the United States alone, the telehealth market is expected to grow 28% by 2026. national and commercial health systems globally, insurance companies are seeing increased use cases.
Offering the opportunity to streamline the consultation process, this cannot come at a more critical time. As life expectancy increases around the world – by 2050 it is reported that a quarter of people in Europe and North America will be over 65 – the demand on healthcare systems is unprecedented.
For healthcare providers and insurers, this means responding to an influx of patients with potentially more complex needs, while also supporting the millions of younger patients who seek medical advice. As such, they must find ways to ensure that processes are sustainable and that everyone has access to health care. Telemedicine and AI-based symptom checking may play a key role in the future of healthcare.
Delivering the next generation of telehealth with data and AI
Many of us have experienced telehealth in the past 12 months. Accelerated in large part as a result of the pandemic, telehealth is a way to see a doctor and provide care from anywhere, without the need for a particular physical location. Download this white paper on Avanade to learn more.
27 million hospital visits: two-thirds preventable
For patients seeking help, their first step may often be to call their doctor’s office or go to the emergency room. Conversely, they can contact their health insurance company who asks them a few questions to determine if they should seek medical advice in person.
The common consequence of these routes is that the waiting rooms are filled with patients who do not need to be there. Of the 27 million annual visits to US hospitals, two-thirds are preventable; symptoms can be treated elsewhere, such as at home or with over-the-counter medications. The result is increased costs for healthcare providers, insurers and patients (with the average cost of such visits exceeding $ 2,000) and less time for physicians to spend with people with more serious problems. which can have an impact on the care they receive.
Provide better patient outcomes
The integration of AI symptom verification and telemedicine has the power to move the frontline of healthcare and better protect the longevity of systems globally. AI symptom checkers can begin the patient journey even before a teleconsultation takes place, determining the type of problem a patient is having and possible treatment options before they even speak to a doctor. . They are able to recommend self-care options where appropriate, suggest a telehealth appointment if counseling is needed, or refer patients to in-person care at local hospitals or doctor’s offices. . Highlighting how such tools can make a difference in emergency room attendance, access to AI symptom checkers and telemedicine, 50% of patients decided not to go to hospital .
Likewise, insurers can use the same technology to provide more specific advice to patients who call for medical care. Where once they can be sent to the doctor as a precaution, an accurate AI may prompt them not to. In 17% of cases where a patient’s first intention was to seek emergency medical care, only 8% were actually recommended.
This rationalization of the flow of patients benefits everyone concerned. It improves access to healthcare, especially for patients who do not live near medical offices or who are absent in another country. It reduces unnecessary travel, saving money that can be reinvested in the system. And it helps ensure that physicians see only those who need them most, allocating resources efficiently. In addition, all of this rich patient data collected by the system can be provided to the doctor, allowing them to make health decisions faster.
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The response to COVID-19
AI-based symptom checking provides fast, accurate health advice that could previously have been sought from a doctor. When combined with telemedicine, patients can receive health care safely, without having to go to a hospital or doctor’s office, which is vital during a pandemic. Conversely, while an in-person visit is always necessary, patients know that the visits are really necessary rather than putting themselves in danger.
Telemedicine has therefore helped to alleviate the spread of disease in waiting rooms, relieving pressure on other aspects of health care, allowing doctors to continue working and providing care to those who have it. need. Attitudes are changing: McKinsey report found only 11% of Americans used telemedicine before COVID; now 76% are interested in using it. Likewise, 57% of providers view telehealth more favorably than before COVID. Both results mark a significant shift, reflecting how technology has imposed itself in times of need.
Strengthen the entire health ecosystem
The ultimate goal of any health technology is to improve access and the quality of patient care. Patients need quick access to accurate health care; physicians need solutions that help them care for their patients more effectively; insurance companies are always looking for more personalized services.
Telemedicine, especially when paired with AI symptom verification that can analyze people of all ages, including entire families, can streamline care and remove some of the efficiencies, increasing the costs of patients. health care and impacts the service. Patients who need medical assistance get it; those who do not receive specific advice to take care of themselves and, above all, to reassure themselves.
In the future, the changing attitude towards telemedicine means that innovation is expected to continue to thrive and we will see increasing use. It will offer a multitude of opportunities for remote monitoring of patients. For example, allowing providers to detect symptoms early and support patients at home, or provide better care while helping them avoid in-person health facilities, costing much more for everyone involved.
Ultimately, improving patient care and flow through AI and telemedicine will have a positive impact and help ease the strain on an increasingly demanded healthcare system – something our society is experiencing. world needs and deserves.