Technology has spawned numerous advancements and possibilities in the world of healthcare—and artificial intelligence (AI) will be no different.
But as this brave new world of AI goes mainstream, it’s easy to get caught up in the AI hype. While these advanced tools hold enormous potential for allowing medical professionals to operate more efficiently and more effectively tackle diseases, we believe the more immediate and single most impactful use of AI in hospitals and clinics today is to strengthen the doctor-patient relationship.
Survey after survey has shown that the person patients trust the most within an often-complex healthcare system is their doctor or healthcare provider (HCP). Providers are overworked and burdened with administrative tasks—threatening the amount of time they have to focus on what they trained for: delivering quality patient care. Technology that empowers both parties with data they need to make clinical decisions can create a stronger foundation for taking better care of patients.
Fragmented healthcare infrastructure
One of the most significant challenges in the healthcare system is the fragmentation of information. You have likely encountered these frustrations yourself or had a loved one experience them: seemingly endless paperwork, bureaucratic snafus, the inability to get an actual human being on the phone to talk to you about a matter as sensitive as your own health and wellbeing.
There are myriad factors that led us to the Byzantine system of care in America, but a significant contributor is that crucial data at the core of the doctor-patient relationship—information that helps to determine the best treatment for a patient and ensures cost-effective care—is spread across various entities. Health plans, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), provider offices, health systems, and pharmaceutical companies all hold different pieces of the puzzle, which means none of these parties is fully utilizing the information. This scattered distribution of information prevents a comprehensive understanding of the patient’s needs, including finding affordable, accessible care they are likely to adhere to.
Misdirection of patient engagement
Many patient engagement initiatives—from wellbeing platforms to digital health apps—have lacked HCP engagement, focusing instead on using digital health tools to put information into the hands of consumers and relying on self-motivation or incentives to drive action and behavior change.
But at the end of the day, patients don’t want to be left alone to navigate complex systems themselves; they want someone they can look in the eye, ask questions, and count on. A better way is to use technology to make existing content within the HCP’s workflow and overall system better—which will ultimately make provider visits more informed and effective.
Focusing AI tools on what matters most
To realize the full potential of technology in strengthening the doctor-patient relationship, our priority should be enabling medical professionals to gain access to comprehensive, patient-specific, moment-in-time healthcare data. Real-time prescription benefit (RTPB) tools could be a backbone of that kind of robust network. These tools aggregate drug, price, and delivery information from various healthcare stakeholders, such as insurers and PBMs.
The results? Real-time data showing providers the different options for filling a particular prescription, including more affordable and convenient pharmacy options—even ways to lower costs if insurance coverage doesn’t exist for that patient or the specific medication prescribed.
AI and automation tools offer valuable assistance to doctors by enabling faster data retrieval, facilitating informed decision-making. These tools bring about efficiencies that expedite access to care, and through automated outreach, patients can receive personalized communications regarding recommended medications, keeping them informed and engaged without creating additional strain on the healthcare workforce.
Building a neutral network
By leveraging the data that is foundational to patient engagement, RTPB tools can gradually expand their capabilities.
Over time, AI can analyze patient data more effectively, identify trends, and predict patient needs accurately. This enhanced accuracy and efficiency will result in time savings for doctors, enabling them to focus on delivering even more personalized care. Moreover, AI-driven RTPB tools can optimize medication recommendations, ensuring patients receive the most cost-effective options available. As patients adhere to prescribed medications, they can experience better health outcomes, reducing the need for costly interventions and hospitalizations.
By using AI to strengthen tools for providers, such as RTPB tools, the healthcare industry can realize significant value in terms of improved patient care, cost savings, and enhanced overall health outcomes—not to mention progress in bolstering the patient-doctor relationship.
This article originally appeared in Pharmaceutical Executive.