AI in Healthcare

In April, Nuance Communications, Inc. announced that it was being acquired by Microsoft for 19.7 billion dollars. This deal is expected to be ongoing throughout the rest of 2021. [1] Microsoft, in this transaction, made sure to emphasize that it wants to provide software that works alongside doctors. [2] Let’s take a look at what software Nuance provides, and how we can expect it to affect doctors and patients.

With their Artificial Intelligence systems, Nuance claims that it can help reduce the amount of time it takes to have a doctor’s visit and increase overall customer satisfaction. Specifically, its Dragon Ambient eXperience (DAX) will record the conversation between the patient and the doctor, decipher the information, and organize it for the doctor to review and confirm or edit after the visit. Under this system, doctors would have to focus less on writing everything down and can focus on helping the patient, helping to make the process better for patients as well as doctors. [3]

These benefits may not sound groundbreaking at first, but it’s important to realize just how overworked doctors are. In 2018, 78% of physicians reported that they either sometimes, often, or always feel burnout from their job. 49% of physicians said they wouldn’t recommend a career of medicine to their children. [4] If we can do anything to make them have to do less busy work (like documentation), we can expect to see more productive doctors helping patients. Instead of being too overworked to care, doctors will be able to show patients that they understand and want to them help, which can improve patient experience greatly.

If you’re skeptical about having AI record and categorize your information, we don’t blame you. You can see it yourself starting June 9th. On Nuance’s website, you can register to watch a virtual demonstration and (presumably) ask questions. [3]

We would love to be able to tell you how these changes in technology will change how much patients will pay. Unfortunately, it is hard to find a reliable answer of how much it will change, if at all. But we can tell you this: if Conversational AI works as advertised by IBM, you can expect much more clarity in medical billing. If you see something on a medical bill that doesn’t make any sense, a patient or advocate would not have to spend more than 10 minutes on hold just to ask a simple question. Instead, the patient or advocate will be able to ask an AI virtual assistant who can help. [5] This can save patients the headache that is trying to understand medical billing.

Again, skepticism about any of this is understandable and welcome. If you want to see more of this work in action, IBM has a catalog of their demonstrations on AI applications. [6]

We are not able to go over all of the nuances and applications of emerging AI technologies here, but we want to give you an idea of a couple ways AI can change healthcare. AI is an evolving and flexible concept; there are many different ways to apply it. To know more about this information, we strongly suggest you go to a couple of the links provided throughout this article.