There is nothing more personal than one’s health and well-being. When receiving care, patients often face extreme challenges. They rightly expect personalization, but despite the countless amounts of data, research and scientific discoveries that have dramatically improved the quality of care, patients often leave healthcare facilities feeling like a number.
According McKinsey, patients expect the same digital experiences they are used to in retail, insurance and banking. These industries have long embraced innovations and processes that allow them to use technology to improve the experience and put the customer first. Patients who have grown accustomed to such benefits now demand a similar commitment from their healthcare providers and payers.
Patients expect to be at the center of their care. They want their suppliers and payers to use omnichannel methods to reach them. They require transparency in decision-making and the ability to manage administrative actions and finances independently. They expect interactions to be seamless in their preferred communication methods, regardless of industry. Patients demand fast, efficient service without repeating or sharing information.
Labor shortages and Covid-19 surges continue to put pressure on suppliers and payers. They struggle to meet these demands with the staff and tools available. But voice AI technology has the potential to help. It can drive the next wave of healthcare innovation by making every patient advocate or service representative smarter and more agile in meeting the growing expectations of healthcare consumers, with the added benefit that AI technology is always active and unbiased.
Changing customer expectations
When the first wave of Covid-19 taxed healthcare institutions, patients became more tolerant. According to the last Pega Health Commitment Investigation, which surveyed more than 2,000 US consumers and 200 healthcare industry leaders, 63% of patients said they would change doctors due to poor communication and engagement (down 23% from compared to the previous year). This year, however, personalized healthcare has become a higher priority.
Health experts know that better patient engagement can lead to better health outcomes. With attention, patients become active members of their care team. They communicate regularly throughout the process while managing their health. They end up being better informed and more involved in their treatment options and care decisions.
Because each patient has varying levels of health literacy and willingness to participate in the care process, engagement can be a challenge. However, AI-powered care services and solutions can remove barriers and biases, personalize interactions, improve health access and equity, and automate access to insights and knowledge. Such benefits can free up service agents to serve and focus on the patient experience rather than process.
Conversational AI solutions work as co-pilots for the agent. The technology considers keywords and phrases, interprets them, then recommends resolution steps and further eliminates tedious manual processes, such as error-prone data entry or data lookups. They also analyze the intention to guide caregivers (and agents) in the most efficient and empathetic service possible.
With voice AI capturing data and guiding conversation, agents can alleviate distracting back-end tasks and better focus on listening and delivering quality service. Plus, healthcare providers have the tools and resources to better answer questions quickly and accurately in real time, human-to-human.
Putting “care” back in health care
In the past, AI has often been seen as cold and impersonal, but over time AI capabilities have become usable in more intuitive and empathetic ways. Through continuous advancements and powerful algorithms, AI can interpret the unique circumstances and patient preferences that play a critical role in the delivery and service of care.
AI has the power to be used to minimize gaps in care, improve early prevention, and give patients the best chance of getting the right treatments quickly while avoiding complications. The technology can predict and coordinate with patients to proactively schedule appointments at a regular cadence through their preferred communication channels. It can also adapt over time. For example, if a patient does not respond to email but responds to text messages, the AI will learn these preferences and automatically update them. It can also continuously configure messaging, incorporating empathetic language for the appropriate situation. Imagine that a patient is in an area where there are forest fires; the agent can be prompted to ask how the person is and if they are safe before proceeding with the call, personalizing the customer experience.
The intersection of human connection and technology via voice AI has the power to revolutionize the way patients interact with their healthcare providers and payers. As a result, healthcare organizations across the value chain that prioritize high-quality personalized services and care will improve both business and health outcomes and be better positioned to retain and grow their patient populations, even if the pandemic persists and beyond. We need personalization, and voice artificial intelligence technology is a fundamental way forward.
Photo: berya113, Getty Images