Co-author: Mohit Arora
Have you ever wondered how Amazon makes a personalized product recommendation? Or, how Siri answers your questions? Or, how Facebook prompts friends to be tagged on the photos you just uploaded? These are some of the real-life examples of applying cognitive technologies.
How does cognitive computation work? It leverages consumers’ historical data and behavioral patterns to generate predictions about their future behavior through machine learning and suggest the personalized products/services/messaging, which in turn improves consumer engagement and experience.
With huge amount of data generated in the healthcare industry, cognitive technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) provide a huge opportunity to healthcare stakeholders to achieve high operational effectiveness by automating their business processes, building strong customer relationship through personalized services, and by improving patient engagement.
Focus on Patient Engagement and Experience
Evolved value-based payment models have linked patient satisfaction to the bottom-line of healthcare organizations. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), $1.5 billion in value-based incentive payments were on the line for hospitals in 2016. With Medicare payments at stake, hospitals and providers are more motivated than ever to provide positive patient experiences and perform well on the HCAHPS survey, failing which will result in the negative Medicare payments.
Moreover, consumers’ interactions with other businesses like retail and e-commerce, which provide personalized services, have elevated their expectations of their providers and a low tolerance for poor service. Nearly 94% of the surveyed patients in the US believe that it is important to be satisfied by their healthcare provider. Millennials have lesser patience when satisfaction is in question and 92% are likely to switch doctors when they find the services unsatisfactory. Hence, it is imperative for healthcare organizations to engage patients more and improve their experience across the journey in the health system.
Cognitive Technology and Artificial Intelligence
AI and cognitive computing, when combined with the Internet of Things (IoT), can collect and collate data through the devices planted in hospital rooms/homes, and can learn and predict patients’ needs by analyzing socioeconomic circumstances and risk factors for different diseases, and target individual patient abnormalities and symptoms. Wearable devices/apps can offer real-time guidance and encouragement to the patients at the right time and at the right place by providing reminders for appointments and medication. Such apps can also connect patients to their care managers/doctors by alerting them on issues and changes in patients’ health, who can then ‘optimize care pathways’ by deciding on the personalized treatment procedures.
Aetna’s AI-enabled virtual online assistant, ‘Ann,’ can chat with patients live through natural language processing and can answer routine questions by making use of machine learning, allowing for an engaging and interactive experience for the patients and caregivers. Cognitive technologies can also help improve product/services by enhancing patient experience through ‘physician lookup’ apps, making personalized recommendations for physicians based on previous interactions with the user, CAHPS rating, wheelchair accessibility requirement, etc.
Anthem Inc. has been using cognitive technologies in order to streamline and automate prior authorization processes with the help of IBM Watson, which provides recommendations to all requests in seconds. It is time for healthcare organizations and enterprises to critically evaluate ways of leveraging cognitive computing and AI technologies to gain competitive edge in the ever-evolving digital economy.