Automation’s Role in Patient Engagement Strategies


Automation’s Role in Patient Engagement Strategies

As seen on HIStalk

Lew Parker, MSIS, MBA is CTO of Arrive Health.

Thanks to ChatGPT, there’s no shortage of content on the topic of AI and automation’s impact on the future of the workplace. You don’t have to be a technology professional to understand that we’re approaching — if not already in — a pivotal moment that will change how we all do work, much like how the iPhone changed our everyday lives.

While AI may feel like a daunting new topic, the reality is that automated solutions have been widely adopted within all industries for quite some time. Healthcare is no exception, with AI-driven tools commonly being used to make the revenue cycle more efficient.

A prime opportunity within healthcare is bringing AI-driven solutions from the back office and using them to create better patient experiences and outcomes. If we can leverage AI-driven automation tools to drive engagement throughout the patient journey while also alleviating administrative burden for overworked providers, why wouldn’t we invest in tools that do that? The key is determining when and where within patient engagement strategies to implement automated approaches, and how to do so in a thoughtful way that preserves data security and protects patient PHI.

Medication adherence presents an ideal opportunity to enter the waters. According to the World Health Organization, medication adherence can directly impact patient outcomes more than a specific treatment itself. But traditional methods to drive adherence — including relying on staff to conduct massive amounts of personalized outreach once a script has been selected – leave room for improvement, as evidenced by one in five prescriptions never being filled and burned out pharmacists, providers, and care teams.

One factor contributing to non-adherence is the engagement gap that exists from the time a provider writes a prescription to when the patient arrives at the pharmacy counter. A lot can occur during that period to prevent a patient from picking up the prescription. AI-driven solutions, specifically patient outreach tools to connect with patients during this time in a more natural and ultimately human way. Anyone who has worked with traditional chatbots or robocalls can attest to the frustration of both patients and implementers when the conversation strays outside the boundaries of what computers could handle. That has fundamentally changed, and now we can bridge the gap to support patient engagement and medication adherence by:

  • Reducing significant volumes of manual and repetitive tasks by automatically sending information over text messaging about topics such as onboarding, medication information, and refill reminders.
  • Creating additional patient touch points along the medication adherence journey while reducing the overall cost of outreach.
  • Using AI to identify which patients have barriers to adherence and then prioritizing them for personalized pharmacist outreach. This will allow pharmacy staff to focus on high-value, high-touch care.

It’s impossible to expect pharmacists and providers to conduct the level of personalized outreach needed across all populations served without the help of technology. There are simply not enough hours in the day. However, using AI-driven tools as described above will drive better patient experiences, engagement, and outcomes while also helping an already overburdened healthcare workforce. As IT leaders, it’s our job to encourage innovation while also supporting responsible and impactful use of AI in new ways, including bringing these tools to patient engagement strategies.

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