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The practice of medicine is, of course, a profoundly people-focused endeavor. After all, the mission of medicine is to help patients and families through some of the most important, and often some of the most difficult, times of their life.

That does not mean, however, that there is no role for machines in the clinician’s career. Indeed, medicine and technology have long worked hand-in-glove to optimize patient care through innovation.

Today’s healthcare industry is no different. In fact, it may well be that the future of medicine lies with some of the most advanced technologies entering the market today. Chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI) systems are transforming healthcare and redefining what the future of medicine looks like.

Chatty Chatbots

When patients are in need of medical care, it may seem unlikely that they’re going to want to spend time talking to a machine rather than a human. Today’s chatbots, however, are not like the automated systems of old, and, as such, they’re playing an increasingly important role in patient care.

For instance, chatbots have been used with great success in screening potential COVID-19 patients and connecting those most at risk to the health resources they need. The end result was a far more efficient and streamlined approach to managing the worst public health crisis in modern history.

Though chatbots in no way can replace the patient/clinician relationship, they can be used to ensure patients are directed to the appropriate practitioner and that they are able to access him or her more quickly.

In addition to facilitating patient screening, chatbots are also proving beneficial in facilitating patient care through interactions with the healthcare provider. This might include a physician engaging with a chatbot to access the patient’s medical history, research treatment options, or refresh the clinician on procedures with which they may be less familiar.

Artificial Intelligence, Decision-Making, and Automation

It’s not only chatbots that are quickly becoming the technology of the future for the healthcare industry. Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are quickly beginning to dominate access to myriad functions.

For instance, through the immense power of machine learning, AI technologies are now being used for the purposes of speech analytics. In customer call centers, AI-driven speech analytics are galvanizing customer care by monitoring emotional cues in the caller’s speech, enabling customer service representatives to provide exceptional, highly personalized service even in the face of high call volumes.

The same principles apply to the use of AI speech analytics in healthcare, helping healthcare providers and patient service providers more rapidly and accurately gauge patients’ emotions and identify those in acute distress.

In addition to helping busy practices better serve their patients and flag those who are in most urgent need of help, AI systems are also being used to enhance patient diagnosis and treatment planning. For instance, AI technologies have helped to automate the reading and analysis of medical images.

Because these systems are often far more sensitive than the human eye, scans can be read far more quickly and with far greater accuracy by AI automated systems than by human clinicians. The result is a speedier and more reliable diagnosis.

In addition, AI systems are capable of tapping into and analyzing literally billions of data points in mere seconds, using machine learning to provide highly-personalized, evidence-based treatment recommendations based both on Big Health Data and the patient’s individual medical history.

The Takeaway

Medicine and technology have long been united in the mission to ensure superb patient care. And now, more than ever, it appears that the mission of preventing disease and healing the sick and injured will be served through chatbots and AI systems. Indeed, these technologies are enabling healthcare providers to dramatically improve their healthcare practice across a range of domains, from patient screening and triaging to diagnosis and treatment planning.