The AI Revolution Reaches Healthcare Administration

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While perhaps not as attention-grabbing as diagnosing and treating disease, using artificial intelligence (AI) tools like ChatGPT in the business of healthcare can be just as impactful. Maybe.

AI has already made headlines for its ability to help identify and manage disease. In only the past few years, AI has been used to interpret mammograms faster and more accurately than a human doctor, better identify the risk factors in infants with hyperbilirubinemia, and better predict acute kidney injury, long-term breast cancer risk, and differential response to antidepressants than conventional protocols.

However, AI isn’t just for the front lines of healthcare — it’s also making an impact in the back office. Here are some of the ways AI is revolutionizing healthcare administration.

Workflow Optimization

Medical software company Mobius MD reported that doctors spend more than 15 hours per week on paperwork and other administrative tasks. AI can automate routine administrative tasks, such as appointment scheduling, patient registration, and billing, which could reduce burnout and free up doctors and their staff to spend more time with patients.

For example, digital platform provider Doximity has a ChatGPT beta tool to streamline time-consuming administrative tasks like drafting preauthorization and appeal letters to insurers. By improving processes like these, hospital administrators can reduce manual errors, enhance efficiency, and allocate staff to more meaningful tasks.

John Halamka, MD, MS, and President of the Mayo Clinic Platform, shares a great example of this in his chat with the American Medical Association: “I think of AI as not artificial intelligence but augmented intelligence. … I did use ChatGPT and said, write a press release about Mayo Clinic’s association with a new technology company. … Well, it generated a perfect, eloquent and compelling press release that was totally wrong. So then I went in and edited all the material facts. And the end result was a perfectly formatted document that I could send off and done in five minutes, not one hour. So think of it as augmenting your capacity and not replacing our clinicians.”

Resource Management

By analyzing historical data and real-time information, AI systems can help administrators make informed decisions about staffing levels, equipment maintenance schedules, and inventory management.

For example, two large urgent care facilities in New Zealand employed machine-learning algorithms to forecast daily patient demand, and reported a roughly 25% improvement in consistency and accuracy compared to more traditional methods. Predictive tools like these ensure that resources are utilized efficiently, minimizing waste and reducing costs.

Patient Support and Engagement

ChatGPT can be employed to answer general inquiries, provide appointment reminders, offer medication reminders, and give basic health advice to patients. This can help reduce the burden on administrative staff and ensure patients receive prompt and accurate information.

Clinicians at UC San Diego Health and UW Health have already begun testing a pilot program using AI to assist practitioners in replying to patients’ online questions, potentially easing burnout. And using an AI chatbot named “Penny,” Penn Medicine is able to send patients medication reminders and even initiate a weekly survey to proactively prompt and address patient symptoms.

Training and Education

Much has been written about ChatGPT’s potential in education support. ChatGPT can be used to create interactive training modules and educational materials for healthcare administrators and can simulate scenarios, offer guidance and provide real-time feedback.

A recent article in the National Institute of Health discussed ways ChatGPT can improve medical education, and one intriguing study found that the tool performed at or near the passing 60% threshold of the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam, arguing that “ChatGPT may potentially assist human learners in a medical education setting, as a prelude to future integration into clinical decision-making.”

Patient Monitoring and Care Coordination

AI-enabled monitoring systems can assist administrators in remotely monitoring patients’ vital signs, medication adherence, and post-discharge follow-up. Researchers recently identified 32 solutions incorporating remote patient monitoring with AI that are used for such tasks as managing diabetes and detecting heart arrhythmia. This technology enables proactive interventions, early detection of deterioration, and reduced readmission rates, all while reducing demand on limited medical resources.

Wrapping Up

It is important to note that while AI has the potential to significantly benefit hospital administrators, it’s not without its flaws, especially if being used to address ethically complicated decisions (such as the suitability of high-risk surgery). It’s also not suitable for unmonitored medical advice. The ChatGPT website admits it can sometimes generate incorrect information and has limited knowledge of events after 2021. However, for more routine and administrative tasks, the potential for AI tools like ChatGPT to free up medical personnel and relieve administration burnout is immense.