Artificial intelligence has the potential to both reduce physician burnout and improve the patient experience. Here’s how healthcare providers can benefit from the technology.
The increasing demands placed on healthcare providers — shifting regulations, digitization, expectations to do more with less — can take their toll. In fact, research shows that physician burnout is on the rise, with one recent survey finding that nearly 80 percent of physicians report they “sometimes, often, or always” experience symptoms.
The consequences of burnout can be disastrous, ranging from low job satisfaction to increased rates of medical errors. Further, as physicians often must spend their time on lengthy administrative tasks, they have less energy to devote to their patients. This creates an environment in which patients may feel overlooked or ignored, and ultimately decide to seek care elsewhere.
Fortunately, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) may be able to chip away at the burdens and stresses placed on physicians. In the past year, a growing number of startups and established technology companies have deployed AI to automate work and save providers time and energy. This also has many benefits for patients, who can count on their doctors to be more present and attentive to their individual needs.
How AI Can Boost Efficiency
Today, much of a doctor’s daily routine is administrative and logistical, rather than patient-centric. One study even found that physicians spend twice as much time updating electronic health records (EHRs) as they do providing direct care to patients. Further, healthcare providers are often too overwhelmed by everyday tasks to focus on expanding their practice or actively recruiting new patients.
A typical healthcare organization generates more data than physicians can efficiently analyze. AI, however, can capture data, analyze it, respond to it, and ensure that it is correctly entered into EHRs with a far greater degree of speed and accuracy. This frees up physicians to devote more of their time to actually engaging with patients.
For instance, AI has the potential to improve the efficiency of interpreting x-rays. Advances in computer imaging have made it so that AI can automatically sort through images to find the best match, which it then presents to the radiologist with a few neighboring options. AI could also play a significant role in the development of new drugs and treatments — especially previously unknown or unidentifiable treatments for chronic conditions and genetic disorders — at a significantly lower cost.
AI and the Future of Patient-Centric Care
Ultimately, the increasing integration of AI into the healthcare field offers the potential for greater automation of administrative tasks and more direct interaction with patients. The launch of new healthcare-oriented AI research centers also promises improvements to the quality of patient care across the industry, from being able to more accurately predict clinical outcomes to rapidly developing new therapies.
While the industry has been slow to adopt AI, primarily because of the initial overhead costs, the benefits of implementing new technologies are clear. With the extra time gained from fewer administrative tasks, healthcare providers are free to focus on providing exemplary care for their current patients and using strategic marketing practices to recruit new ones. Not only is AI poised to save time and money in the long run, but it can also offer greater satisfaction for both patients and physicians.