Last Updated on July 21, 2023
The use of “artificial intelligence” (AI) and machine learning (ML) to replace human work is a hotly debated topic. Lately, most of the conversation has focused on simulating creative work like screenwriting and graphic design. But should we also expect technology like healthcare AI to eventually replace nurses and other clinical workers? Or, can AI be a tool to streamline healthcare workforce management? Here’s what leaders should know.
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The Recent Rise of Healthcare Artificial Intelligence
Of course, the healthcare industry already uses technology like AI and ML. Many organizations use it to automate repetitive tasks and give employees more time to focus on patient care. It also powers important analytical tools that assess, organize and process patient data, which can predict future risks and warn caregivers of adverse events before they happen.
Yet that may be just the beginning. Some observers predict that new healthcare AI and language-learning tools may be about to replace other clinical processes, too.
ChatGPT and the New “AI”
For instance, providers already use ChatGPT, the new “language-learning model” that’s often called AI (but isn’t quite the same thing), to help with key tasks like clinical research and writing scripts. Patients also like the consumer-level info it offers. Some even feel that its responses are more detailed and even more empathetic than what they get from doctors.
It isn’t difficult to see the benefits of using technology to streamline patient care by quickly providing basic information. From offering directions on the use of medications to answering frequently asked questions, it works much like the website chatbots that already offer automated customer service on many web sites.
In this sense, what’s being called “healthcare AI” isn’t much different than what’s already offered online. Many use sites like WebMD, MayoClinic.org, Healthline and even Google to find quick and basic medical information — and have done so for decades at this point. As with ChatGPT and other content simulators, experts often question the accuracy of that info! But that isn’t stopping patients from using either type of technology.
How Do Patients and Healthcare Providers Feel about Healthcare AI?
In fact, patients in the United States seem to strongly favor this development — up to a point. According to a survey of 1,000 patients by clinical technology provider Tebra, 80 percent already have a positive outlook on healthcare AI. They believe it “has the potential to improve the quality of healthcare, reduce costs, and increase accessibility.”
But that patient enthusiasm has its limits. Just over half of Americans (53 percent) also think that healthcare AI shouldn’t replace humans, according to the survey. Just under half (47 percent) feel that it isn’t quite up to the task of diagnosing and treating health conditions. In addition, three in four respondents said they’d still prefer a human therapist over a healthcare AI chatbot.
Concerns about Data Privacy and Over-Use of Technology
Still, there’s a lot of room between treating a health condition, and supporting the clinicians who usually do that work. As the survey points out, the work that’s being replaced isn’t patient interaction or critical thinking, but repetitive tasks like data entry and appointment scheduling.
In fact, about 10 percent of healthcare professionals already use this kind of technology for such tasks. As such, healthcare AI and similar technology are already acting as “virtual nurses” (or nurse’s aides). They’re already helping to conduct research, check symptoms and conduct triage. With its power to quickly assess large amounts of data, these new tools can more quickly and effectively let caregivers know which patients are in the greatest need of urgent attention.
Just under half of 500 surveyed healthcare workers say they’re interested in using the technology for these purposes, according to the survey. But the other half fears that it could interfere with the human element that’s at the heart of successful care. They also feel that it could “compromise data privacy” and lead to an “overreliance” on technology.
How to Move Forward with Healthcare AI & Related Technology
These concerns are important and can help guide leaders in the best use of this new technology. As with any tool, the right solution seems to be using healthcare AI under the guidance of an expert. Doing so could help drive efficiency and cost savings while still preserving the human element.
In fact, models for this kind of use are already in place. Technology that’s similar to healthcare AI and machine learning can and does simplify time-consuming work. For instance, providers of healthcare managed services (MSP) can leverage technology to automate processes like scheduling, billing and reimbursement filings, timesheet approvals, and cybersecurity monitoring.
>Did You Know: Workforce metrics provided by automating tasks and machine learning can also help streamline healthcare workforce management?
How to Use Technology for Better Patient Care
Utilizing technology is key to better healthcare workforce management. Using technology in this way can enable leaders to do more with less labor while better ensuring clinical accuracy. It can also free up time for nurses and other healthcare workers to spend more time on patient care. The result is greater efficiency, better outcomes and lower costs, as well as more human interaction.
The ultimate goal isn’t to replace workers. On the contrary, cutting down on administrative tasks and paperwork can help solve one of the biggest complaints among nurses. After all, most nurses and healthcare professionals enter the field out of a desire to help others. By cutting repetitive tasks and endless documentation, healthcare AI and similar technology can help them do just that.
Embrace the Possibilities of Healthcare Technology with CareerStaff
At CareerStaff Unlimited, we specialize in helping healthcare organizations find the most efficient ways to optimize workforce management. From providing access to a nationwide network of nurses and clinical workers to driving greater efficiency with healthcare managed services (MSP) and vendor management systems (VMS), we’re proud to deliver the healthcare workforce solutions your organization needs to embrace the future of healthcare.
Learn more about how our healthcare workforce solutions can help you use the latest technology to benefit patients, employees, and, ultimately, your own bottom line: Contact us today to connect with us or request more info.