Improving Patient Satisfaction by Automating Patient Experience With NLP and CV

While ninety-one percent of healthcare executives revealed in a recent survey that improving the patient experience is their No. 1 priority, many health systems unfortunately still fall woefully short.

Indeed, another poll found that nearly half of more than 2,000 respondents had experienced difficulties scheduling appointments with their healthcare providers, and another one-quarter had suffered treatment delays.

Those aren’t great numbers when it comes to maintaining – let alone improving – the patient experience, which is why health systems across the board have begun seriously investing in automation.

Push Factors Leading to Healthcare Automation

Healthcare systems and hospitals have traditionally employed legions of administrative and data entry staff to process the immense amount of paperwork required during day-to-day workflows. This paperwork includes preparing, collating, quality-assuring, correcting, scanning, and transcribing documents and other materials, as required.

Indeed, many hospital staff spend their days drowning in paper forms, each of which requires manual actions. That’s not counting the reconciliation of data among health organizations, providers, and payers; the continued (and extremely outdated) use of fax machines for referrals; and call centers tasked with making countless outbound patient engagement calls.

All that manual work adds up: Up to 33 cents of each healthcare dollar spent goes to such back-office operations. And the CAQH Index, a third-party source for tracking health plan and provider adoption of electronic transactions, estimates the industry cost of administrative transactions at $39 billion.

The Index adds that fully automating even some of these transactions could save more than $16 billion annually.

But it’s not just the allure of greater efficiency and cost savings pushing healthcare systems toward greater automation: Data security and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance also play a role.

After all, manually transferring so much personal health information (PHI) between physicians, nurses, and admin staff means a greater chance of a mistake and potential non-compliance – or, worse, a data breach.

Patients, as well, have come to expect a greater level of service from their healthcare providers. Nearly 50 percent of patients have recently expressed dissatisfaction with their level of healthcare service in the U.S.

How Can Automation Improve the Patient Experience?

The good news is that workflow automation holds tremendous potential to reduce some of these pressures, improve service, and safeguard sensitive personal information by streamlining workflows.

Healthcare providers have taken note: A recent Deloitte survey of executives across 25 health systems indicated that 92 percent hope to improve the patient experience through digital transformation.

Healthcare automation is largely driven by AI and machine learning (ML), specifically natural language processing (NLP), to enable machines to read and process text and computer vision (CV) for image recognition.

These and other technologies have already proven adept at tackling some of the healthcare system’s low-hanging fruit that consumes an outsized amount of staff time. This includes patient onboarding, appointment scheduling, claims processing, report generation, prescription management, discharge instructions, and account settlement.

Here are a few other ways automation can help improve the patient experience:

  • Patient admissions: Admitting patients is one of the most paperwork-intensive aspects of healthcare and includes countless personal information forms, consent forms, and other documents. These documents are often copied, scanned, faxed, and emailed, a tedious process that also puts health data at risk. NLP models combined with strict access and authorization controls can automate this process, making it faster, more efficient, and less prone to mistakes.
  • Appointment scheduling and patient queries: Chatbots and virtual assistants can be integrated with NLP to provide personalized and real-time responses to patients’ queries. They can help with appointment scheduling through intelligent triage (to ensure the patient sees the right provider), along with answering frequently asked questions.
  • Understanding the patient journey: The first step to improving the patient journey is to understand its many stages, from appointment booking to post-care follow-up. By mapping out the patient journey, healthcare systems and hospitals can better identify areas where automation could enhance patient experience.
  • Medical image annotation and analysis: CV can speed up the process of anomaly detection in medical images, leading to faster diagnoses, triage, and, ultimately, speedier treatment and better outcomes.
  • Patient communications: Hospitals can use NLP to personalize patient communications, such as appointment reminders, follow-up messages, and educational materials, improving patient engagement and satisfaction. Automation can also improve post-hospitalization outreach and data collection from patients after they leave the hospital (if necessary).
  • Telemedicine: CV can also be used to improve the patient experience. For example, a patient’s facial expression can be analyzed during a telemedicine session to identify signs of discomfort or pain. This kind of human movement analysis can help healthcare providers provide better care and treatment.
  • Patient discharge: Most discharged patients receive some kind of exit package that can include discharge, follow-up, or prescription instructions; results and diagnoses; and a hospitalization summary. Automation with security controls can accelerate the production of these packages and ensure PHI isn’t accidentally misdirected or stolen.
  • Other administrative tasks: Automation can also streamline administrative tasks, such as insurance verification and billing. By automating these tasks, healthcare providers can focus more on patient care, improving the overall patient experience.

TeleVox Healthcare’s Vik Krishnan argues that any automated healthcare communication must abide by the following best practices:

  1. All activities must be integrated with current electronic health record (EHR) systems to mitigate the amount of ramp-up time required of physicians, nurses, and admin staff
  2. Closed-loop service, which enables patients to book appointments and perform other tasks digitally, is now a requirement
  3. All messaging and communications to patients must be relevant and meaningful – especially when it originates from a technology source. Otherwise, patients may feel like they’re being spammed

CapeStart: The Healthcare Automation Experts

CapeStart’s NLP, CV, and ML experts work with healthcare researchers, systems, and hospitals every day to improve efficiency and help scale their activities, so our clients can do what they do best – provide industry-leading (and sometimes life-saving) healthcare.

Contact us today to learn how our NLP and CV solutions can help your journey to digital transformation.

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