Supporting healthcare providers to deliver patient-led services

Over the past few years, the buzzword in healthcare has been patient-led, or patient-centric services. Introduced to the NHS in its Improvement Plan back in 2004, this policy aims to give those receiving treatment more of a say about how it is planned and provided.

Whilst individual preferences will always vary from person to person, a few constants remain. Patients want clear communication, involvement in decisions about their treatment, and to be supported in their efforts at self-care.

This is the aim of the many large-scale digital transformation projects being undertaken in the sector today, but there are also solutions which are far quicker and easier to implement, improving treatment delivery and demonstrating clear ROI.

Healthcare, it's time to meet AI...

Automated screening to fast-track patients

If they want to find out more about a symptom, condition or treatment, a patient's first port of call is probably to look online. Yet when it comes to medical advice on the internet, there is a lot of unverified information out there... Even when people are able to find clinically approved advice, this tends to be generic, leaving them unsure as to whether or not it is relevant to their specific needs.

Patients can benefit from more effective screening and diagnosis tools powered by AI. GreenShoot Labs has been commissioned to build programs such as the iPhysio Bot that guide the user through a series of questions about their symptoms. In this instance, the bot is then able to identify the likely cause of their musculoskeletal pain and provide expert advice on how to treat it at home, suggesting professional intervention in more serious cases.

Not only does this kind of program provide patients with easily obtainable, personalised, and immediate information, it also alleviates pressure on clinicians and support staff.

Automatic screening processes like this help to ease high volumes of patient enquiries, saving staff time to give expert advice where it is needed. In some cases, it can help to keep people out of healthcare systems entirely, by giving them the confidence to diagnose and self-treat minor ailments.

A nudge in the right direction

One of the biggest problems facing healthcare is a lack of adherence to medicines and treatment programmes. In 2011, a government report found that people not taking their medicines properly cost the NHS £500m per year.

But this issue is more than just financial. Failing to follow treatment as prescribed can have a devastating impact on patients' health, as well as also causing a greater burden on services in future.

As behavioural science shows, habits, environmental cues and social nudges have a vast impact on our actions. These principles can be applied to healthcare to guide patients through all interactions with services, from initial contact, treatment, and aftercare, to ensure they have the best possible experience.

According to Dr. Kevin Volpp, a doctor and the director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, “There’s starting to be a broad recognition that decision-making environments in health care could better reflect how doctors and patients actually make decisions.”

Consider this example. You're booked in for a routine operation and receive a letter confirming the date and time. This letter will most likely contain a host of other instructions – whether you should stop eating or drinking, and if so at what time; perhaps you need to take some tablets, or attend a series of pre-operative assessments... There's usually a lot of information to get to grips with, and serious consequences if you get it wrong.

So what if, instead of a complicated letter, you were sent text messages prompting you to take the right action at the right time? These kinds of automated behavioural nudges provide a much easier way for patients to follow instructions, and help ensure they get the best from their treatment. All made possible by the power of AI.

Notably, a similar strategy was recently implemented by the NHS to support coronavirus patients in self-isolation, giving them a regular point of contact to check in on their symptoms, without putting pressure on overloaded GP surgeries or helplines.

Supporting the precepts of behavioural science with automation can transform how patients interact with their healthcare providers, making sure they get the most from their treatment, and are fully supported each step of the way.

Next steps

In all areas of business, AI can make a difference - fast. In fact, it's possible to have simple solutions go live in as little as eight weeks.

Perhaps most importantly, AI solutions can be tailored specifically to the issue in hand - from providing quick, reliable and personalised medical advice, to improving patient outcomes with automated nudges – all with demonstrable return on investment.

If you're interested in the benefits AI can bring to your organisation, or would like to know more, then we've got a proven track record in delivering successful solutions.

Contact us and we'll be more than happy to discuss your needs.