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Applications of artificial intelligence (AI) in the healthcare industry are growing. Whether through chatbots that can interact with patients to answer common questions or AI tech that can turn patient records into readable digital data to create more easily accessible medical record-sharing, AI-assisted software is cropping up to improve efficiencies and patient care. These applications will help change the nature of work in the healthcare industry and continue to offer healthcare workers support, all while creating a more robust workforce.
How AI Fits into Healthcare
There are two types of AI that are important to understand. First is natural language processing, which we can see in the case of the chatbot. Essentially, AI turns language into data, coding it and assessing appropriate correlating responses. This type of AI is vital when it comes to human interactions within the healthcare industry, even while much of our medical information (like blood pressure or temperatures) already provides information in numerical values we more easily associate as “data.”
The other important AI component is machine learning. The same tech that determines which ads or links you see in your social media feed can also have vastly more complex and important medical uses. Machine learning allows AI to read data in real-time, learn from it, and offer predictions. So rather than figure out which ad would most appeal to you while you’re searching the internet, algorithms might help doctors predict the best patient care option. We are even currently on the cusp of more specialized tech that incorporates machine learning and the use of algorithms to create predictive data to assist doctors with patient assessments. We’re not fully there yet, and the idea of AI occupying the job of humans throughout the patient experience may not sit well with the average person. A robot may be programmed to have a good bedside manner, but we still very much need human interaction with healthcare staff. For now, AI is really more about assisting healthcare workers rather than replacing them.
Why AI Can Make Healthcare Better
Currently, AI in healthcare can help reduce human error, offer greater efficiencies in repetitive tasks, and provide a consulting resource for physicians and nurses. In doing so, AI tech will begin changing the landscape for how healthcare providers are able to provide care as it continues to evolve. For example, with the current public health crisis, we are seeing the rise of telehealth visits as an important public health resource to keep patients at home and reduce the spread of contagion as much as possible. Through technology, patients can stay safely at home, while medical staff offers expertise via virtual consultations. This current necessity may lead to greater telehealth services using AI tech. AI devices can aid this new form of medical service by allowing at-home monitoring of patients that can send alerts to healthcare providers as it reads patients’ biological data. This shift in the landscape of healthcare service may lead to lower cost of care and greater patient satisfaction, and will definitely change the concept of the doctor’s office.
AI's Role in the HR Sphere
The current most prolific use of AI in the healthcare industry presently exists in the human resources department. The AI-assisted tech that is the most “non-controversial” operates behind the scenes to find the qualified staff who create optimal patient care throughout the healthcare industry. Because there is currently a talent shortage in the healthcare industry (and not just in hospitals hit by pandemic), healthcare staffing requires more sophisticated solutions to meet the need of healthcare staffing.
The staffing shortage is widespread and generational, as our aging population requires more health services. AI-assisted tech can help talent acquisition source candidates by incorporating data to find the most likely places that quality healthcare workers seek jobs on the internet. AI can also screen resumes through natural language processing to match the skill set required of a job with the most qualified candidate resumes. This tech streamlines the hiring process in the healthcare industry, which is vital to providing the best patient care to fill vacancies quickly.
Whether AI tech is finding the best healthcare staff or making life easier for them in their day-to-day operations, the industry is currently on the cusp of an AI-fueled transformation.