With every politician in DC focused on solving the problem, high healthcare costs remain a thorn in the average American's side. Everything from an invasive surgery to a regular check-up costs an arm and a leg, which unfortunately also isn't covered by your healthcare provider. However, improvements in healthcare technology could spell big savings for everyone from providers to employers to consumers. And artificial intelligence is leading the pack.
I had a chance to talk with Jeff Cohen, cofounder and vice president of cognitive innovation services at Welltok, a healthcare company providing consumers with personalized guidance and incentives to optimize their health, about the effect artificial intelligence will have on the healthcare industry as a whole. Check out what he had to say below:
Plenty of Data
There's no denying the healthcare industry has produced an unprecedented amount of data, particularly in recent years. Unfortunately, until recently, there has been no way to deal with all of it in a meaningful way that can lower costs. Fortunately, that's already changing.
“The healthcare industry is at a reflection point where providers, health plans, employers, and most importantly, consumers need ways to achieve optimal health,” said Cohen. “Every stakeholder in the healthcare supply chain has both structured and unstructured data that can help increase efficiencies and decrease waste. AI and Cognitive computing provide an entirely new paradigm that allows us to learn, find patterns and utilize data in different ways.”
It's easy to claim that technology like artificial intelligence can change the way things are done. But having a specific plan for all that data is key. And that's exactly what Cohen has.
“AI can digest volumes of data that traditional computing can’t handle, find patterns, learn previous interactions and understand the intent and sentiment of natural language that can power all types of capabilities. AI is transformational but is also still dependent on solid taxonomies, human interaction and knowledge to train and target use cases.”
Actually Lowering Costs
More efficient healthcare practices is one thing. But if they aren't lowering costs, the primary problem still persists: people can't afford healthcare. Fortunately, as Cohen puts it, all this efficiency is going to make it a whole lot easier to treat patients at a fair price.
“The foundation that AI can lay may lead to major transformation in how consumers and providers interact with each other and the health care supply chain. AI has the potential to combat rising prices by targeting low hanging fruit and creating efficiencies – from helping triage a patient to answering benefit questions from consumers.”
What About Chatbots?
As perhaps the most common use of artificial intelligence, chatbots have become a regular member of sales and customer service teams in the tech world. But how can they be used to improve the healthcare process and subsequently lower costs?
“Chatbots have the potential to eliminate a lot of the hassle in the consumer healthcare lifecycle. Applying chatbots to assist and guide consumers at the right time and right place can make it easier for consumers to interact with their doctors, triage care, understand their benefits coverage and find the best quality care with the most cost effective price.”
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