Artificial intelligence is hot, telemedicine is not: Health IT predictions for 2024

Artificial intelligence is hot, telemedicine is not: Health IT predictions for 2024

What is likely to happen in health IT this year? AHCJ turned to Colin Hung for insight.

Hung, chief marketing officer and editor of Healthcare IT Today, has attended 41 healthcare technology industry conferences in the past year to stay on top of this rapidly changing market.

AI-generated doctor notes, microphones in exam rooms and cameras in admission rooms could all be available by 2024, Hung said.

Here are some trends to watch:

Medical institutions lean toward practical applications of artificial intelligence

Health agencies are looking beyond the hype to integrate these tools in ways that save providers time, Hong said. For example, some hospitals and electronic health record vendors are integrating artificial intelligence language models to create patient communications. For example, if a doctor needs to remind a patient about an upcoming appointment or a lab test, they can select from a menu of patient reminders and the AI ​​tool will generate a personalized note to the patient containing that information.

“Feedback from patients is that these AI-generated communications are better written and more empathetic than what they have received before,” Hong said. “What’s more, these tools are popular with physicians because they save a lot of time. So it’s a win for everyone.”

Artificial intelligence is also being used to help summarize relevant information in patients’ electronic health records so that clinicians can be prepared before making an appointment.

Additionally, there is growing interest in ambient clinical voice, an artificial intelligence tool built into some electronic health record systems that uses microphones in the exam room to listen to conversations between doctors and patients and respond based on “Create summary in patient chart” of what was heard.

Hospitals strengthen patient participation and communication

Hospitals are also leveraging AI in this area, both to translate outbound messages into languages ​​other than English to increase patient engagement and to enhance patients’ ability to schedule appointments on their own.

“have [been] There’s been a huge push over the last year around self-scheduling,” Hong said. “I think it’s become one of the quieter requirements in health care. “For a while, everyone thought it was a great feature, he said, “but now, everyone just expects it…Patients get really angry when they can’t book online or check availability. . “

The tricky part, Hong said, is when a patient may need to see more than one specialist during a visit. But by 2024, hospitals may invest in these platforms to ease the burden on call centers and meet patient expectations.

At the same time, pursue more sophisticated outreach communications with patients beyond impersonal, rote text messages. These can be used to target patients in health programs such as smoking cessation to provide encouragement, reminders and links to reference materials to make them more proactive in their own care.

Reduce use of remote patient monitoring and traditional telemedicine

Remote patient monitoring—the use of technology to monitor patients outside the hospital setting—has hit a trough for a number of reasons, Hong said. These include:

  • Now that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, more and more people are going to hospitals in person.
  • Reimbursement rates for remote patient monitoring decline.
  • Hospitals can charge more when patients come in person.

Even so, the technology could still be useful for post-surgery patients, some of whom can safely go home early through the use of remote monitoring devices.

Telemedicine is also on the decline in many areas, Hong said, “because you realize you can’t do everything over a Zoom call and most patients really, really want to see their doctor in person.” “We’re seeing a return to reality.”

He added that telemedicine can still be helpful in certain situations, such as in behavioral health or when patients live in rural areas far away from specialists.

But greater use of “asynchronous” telemedicine

For patients who don’t need to talk to a clinician in real time, so-called “asynchronous” telemedicine could provide the answer. The patient portal allows people to email doctors or record videos on their smartphones. Alternatively, they can leave a voicemail. This helps avoid scheduling issues for clinicians and gives healthcare professionals more time to provide thoughtful answers.

“There’s nothing that says telemedicine has to be real-time,” Hong said.

Increase the use of technology in hospital wards

Hong said installing cameras in patient rooms was once taboo, but with a shortage of health care workers and the advent of better technology, hospitals are changing attitudes.

This has benefits for patient safety and contact tracing, such as monitoring patients for potential falls and seeing who is entering and exiting a room. Medical round discussions can also be replayed for family members arriving later so they can stay informed. Hospital staff and virtual nurses can use the technology to check on patients, and patients can use voice commands to change TV channels or order food.

Cybersecurity remains an ongoing concern

Amid all these developments, Hong said hospitals have worked together to secure federal funding to defend against cyberattacks. As staffing costs increase and expectations from government insurance companies like Medicare increase, hospitals are unable to devote the required budgets to cybersecurity.

“Health data is very valuable and healthcare organizations are viewed as soft targets,” he said. “Additionally, bad actors know that holding health data hostage can create life-or-death situations, increasing potential ransom payouts.”

Other resources

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *