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New technologies are poised to fundamentally change the HR industry as we know it. Just as the smartphone revolutionized the way we communicate, artificial intelligence will reshape all areas of HR, from employee onboarding to learning management to developing top talent. And, similar to smartphones, these changes will take place at lightning speed.

But what exactly is artificial intelligence? And what implications might this evolving tech have on the future of health care? Buckle up, because we’re going to take a glimpse into the current AI projects, as well as what the future of health care could look like with AI advancements.

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

In its most basic form, artificial intelligence uses computer programming to develop systems that are able to perform tasks that would normally require human intelligence. These tasks could include speech recognition, decision-making, language translation, and much more.

Have you ever wondered how ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft are able to predict ETAs for rides? Artificial intelligence. Or, how email platforms know how to filter out spam and nicely categorize your emails into categories? Yep, artificial intelligence.  Or, how your banking app is able to process a check deposit via a simple image? You guessed it, artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence has become an integral part of many of the technologies and services that we use in our everyday life without us even knowing or really thinking about it.

In addition to its many convenient applications, AI also offers a promising and impactful future in the field of health care.

Examples of Artificial Intelligence in Health Care

The use of artificial intelligence is completely altering the front door of health care as we know it. From specific programs that aid in medical diagnostics to intelligent apps that triage remote patients, AI is making health care more efficient and accessible than ever.

Medical Data Mining

One of the primary areas in which AI shines versus manual human processes in the field of data analysis. Not only can artificial intelligence process complex sets of data at lightning speed, it can also provide meaningful and actionable insight and recommendations based on data sets. DeepMind(acquired by Google in 2014) is an AI-based technology that works to expedite the process in which patients are moved from ‘test’ to ‘treatment’. IBM’s Watsonproduct provides solutions for interpreting, organizing, and easily accessing clinical and patient data, in addition to providing technology for recognizing patient similarity and medical insights. According to IBM, medical data is expected to double every 73 days by 2020. And, each person will generate enough health-related data in their lifetime to fill 300 million physical books. Utilizing AI will not only expedite the process in which health care providers access patient info but also better-organize and analyze data available and even provide predictions on future health concerns and recommendations for treatment plans.

Powering Diagnostics

The FDA recently approved the use of artificial intelligence powered software for the use of medical diagnostics, marking the first use of AI in this application. The program is designed to detect signs of diabetic retinopathy, a condition that can cause long-term vision loss and that impacts more than 30 million people in the United States alone. The technology uses an AI algorithm to scan and analyze multiple images of an eye and then delivers a positive or negative test result. This is the first FDA approved solution that does not require a doctor to interpret test results, and more AI-based diagnostic solutions are expected to get the green light in the next several years.

Drug Development

It’s no secret that testing pharmaceuticals through clinical trials is an expensive and time-consuming process. The full development, testing, and approval process can literally take decades and cost billions. Though pharmaceutical players of all sizes are currently experimenting with AI applications in the drug discovery and development process, GSK is considered a leader in the space. GSK has fully embraced AI research and applications with their dedicated in-house team, ‘In silico Drug Discovery Unit’. The ultimate goal of the GSK project is to leverage artificial intelligence to shorten the drug research, testing, and launch window to under a year, a bold vision. Making the pharmaceutical process more efficient could drastically reduce the cost of medical treatments and the cost of health care in general.

Solving Doctor Shortages

China is facing one of the most alarming doctor shortagesin history, with only 1.5 doctors for every 1,000 residents (compared to 2.5 doctors per person in the United States). The need is dire, and the government is calling for action and loosening restrictions on the use of data and new technology. Currently, more than 100 companies are working to develop AI solutions to address urgent health care needs. A recent reportpredicted that China’s market for AI-powered health care services will reach almost $6B yuan ($930 Million) by 2022. Current projects include diagnostic tools to assist with CT scans, x-rays, ultrasound scans and prosthetic design and manufacturing.

Improving Telemedicine

Which would you prefer – an hour-long wait in a doctor’s office plus the time to actually see the doctor, or a quick 15-minute consultation and diagnosis via your smartphone? Though many assume telemedicine is a modern iteration of health care, this practice has actually been around since the 1950’s. Now, telemedicine is a common alternative to traditional doctor’s visits for simple diagnostics and treatment. A new app, 98point6, is taking this remote-experience to the next level with artificial intelligence. The technology interacts with subscribers to help better understand medical needs and then channels requests to the appropriate doctor for evaluation. The AI-bot essentially serves as a personalized triage service, saving manual time and labor.

The Bottom Line?

The adoption and utilization of artificial intelligence in the health care space will make health care more accessible, efficient, and affordable for everyone.

by Meisha Bochicchio, Content Marketing Manager at PlanSource
Originally posted on blog.ubabenefits.com

It’s not surprising that 2017 stands to be the year many will have an experience to share using a Telemedicine or a Virtual Doctor service. With current market trends, government regulations, and changing economic demands, it’s fast becoming a more popular alternative to traditional healthcare visits.  And, as healthcare costs continue to rise and there are more strategic pricing options and digital models available to users, the appeal for consumers, self-insured employers, health systems and health plans to jump on board is significant.

Check out this short video and contact us to learn more!

It’s not surprising that 2017 stands to be the year many will have an experience to share using a Telemedicine or a Virtual Doctor service. With current market trends, government regulations, and changing economic demands, it’s fast becoming a more popular alternative to traditional healthcare visits.  And, as healthcare costs continue to rise and there are more strategic pricing options and digital models available to users, the appeal for consumers, self-insured employers, health systems and health plans to jump on board is significant.

In a recent study conducted by the Aloft Group on the state of Telemedicine, 47.7% of respondents weren’t sure about what Telemedicine meant, but it’s possible they may have experienced it, as 52.4% have had interaction with a physician or clinician via email or text. Further, 78.5% of respondents indicated they would be comfortable talking with a physician using an online method.

Dr. Tony Yuan, an experienced ER doctor in San Diego, who also consults for Doctor on Demand, provides insight into this increasing trend during a recent Q and A session. Currently, over half of the patients he sees in his ER could utilize a digital healthcare model. In fact, 90% of patients who head to the ER for minor illnesses can be treated through this service. So, the next sinus, ear infection, or other minor health issue just may provide you and your family the chance to try what will become the new standard in minor healthcare.

Here are few benefits TeleMedicine has to offer:

It’s Fast and Simple

There’s no question apps are available for everything to make our lives easier—and TeleMed is no exception. Within minutes, standard first time users can set up an account, complete a few medical profile questions, then create and save a session. Having the ability to log on with a board-certified physician or clinician 24/7/365, using any PC, smart device, and even phone in some cases, saves time and money. Many services, like Teledoc and MDLive, will connect you with a licensed doctor or clinician online in just a few minutes – no scheduling or wait required. Once on, you can discuss your healthcare needs confidentially. After the visit, the doctor will update his/her records, notify your primary care physician of the call, and send an electronic prescription to the pharmacy of your choice, if necessary—all in the time it takes for a lunch break.

 

It’s Flexible

The ability to connect with a professional whether you are at home, work, or traveling makes getting the care you need invaluable. How often have you experienced the symptoms—or the full blown-effect—of getting sick while traveling? Many, no doubt, have had to adjust flight/travel plans to get the help needed from their PCP, in order to avoid getting worse.  By using an app or online service from your smart phone or laptop, you’re able to get the antibiotics you need quicker without cutting trips short or missing work to do so.

 

In addition, patients in smaller communities without the resources available of classically- trained, emergency-med physicians, see the benefit and flexibility of tapping into these online doctor services. Not only is it a plus for the patient to access more advanced care if needed, doctors in these rural areas value this as well. These digital healthcare models provide immediate, life-saving tools for both doctors and their patients who may not have access to higher, acute facilities.

 

It’s Affordable

Many TeleMedicine services now accept insurance, making a patient’s visit free, or at minimum the same as most deductible or co-insurance amounts for office visits; around $40. For those on a high-deductible plan, paying $40 for an online doctor service is a much cheaper alternative than paying $150 or more for an Urgent Care visit, or over $1200 for a trip to the ER. For employers, group options are low cost and can be a clear asset when creating solutions EEs will value.

 

It’s Beneficial to Employers

Today, 3 of 5 corporations, or 59% of employers provide digital healthcare benefits to their employees. As an employer, the benefits are straightforward. First, employees can participate in professional consultations for their family members or themselves without taking away from productivity. Second, when employers incorporate these services into their benefit plans, non-emergency care is redirected from expensive ER visits, ultimately saving thousands of dollars or more to the bottom line. Additionally, TeleHealth services offer frequent monitoring from clinicians for those employees who may need regular support due to more chronic issues, reducing trips to the hospital. Reducing these costs have a direct ROI for the employer and relieves the stress on the employee’s pocketbook. Third, many companies are now adding this digital benefit to their packages as a way to recruit new talent.

 

There’s no doubt 2017 will see a greater opportunity for all to experience the increasing trend of Telemed. Creating a clear communication strategy to make sure employees know how to find, access and utilize this service to the highest potential is key.

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