“By 2020, the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their spouse”, predicts Heather Pemberton Levy in a recent Gartner report. If you’ve ever spoken with Amazon Alexa or Google Home, this prediction seems very possible. The impact on every aspect of health delivery is likely to be as profound.
Here are our 5 predictions on how conversational agents will show up in clinics, hospitals, ALFs/SNFs, and patient homes. Yet one more Artificial Intelligence is going to affect our personal and work lives.
For those of you who want to dig deeper, read this article from Stanford University.
(1) Patient Calls to the Front Desk
Imagine not having to take every call from patients. Instead, a conversational agent takes the call and tries to address the patient’s needs like scheduling an appointment and getting directions to the clinic. Better yet, the agent is smart enough to direct palliative care patients to anywhere BUT the hospital and 911.
(2) Companion for the Elderly
Alexa and Google Home already provide entertainment (movies, music, games), can turn lights on/off for immobile patients, and make calls to caregivers and family. Its just a matter of time before these products become commonplace in home bound patients, ALFs, and SNFs.
(3) Reminders and Treatment Compliance
Instead of relying on the stack of instructions and a quick conversation during discharge, patients can go home and ask a conversational agent about the when and how of their treatment. Even get reminders when to take medications or change a dressing.
(4) Ever Present Medical Assistant
Doctors may talk to a conversational agent to review a patient’s chart (when was their last visit, change in vitals, results of most recent labs or studies) as well as place orders and document their exam findings. Better yet, they could do this while driving between patient homes.
(5) Virtual Visit
Instead of talking to a doctor, patients may simply converse with an agent that can perform first level triage. Calming patients down when the condition simply requires waiting, or escalating patients who have a life-threatening disease.