It’s National Urgent Care Awareness Month and the U.S. is beginning to reopen as everyone tries to get back to some normalcy. That includes patients who might have put off annual doctor’s appointments or are rescheduling in-person ones they canceled. When patients weren’t in the office, they began taking their appointments online as urgent care centers and other health providers across the country scrambled to add telehealth services at the beginning of the pandemic.
While there are still a lot of unknowns, one thing certain is that patients are adapting to this technology (despite the lack of use previously) and other artificial intelligence (AI) technology. But this overwhelming demand was not foreseen so soon by the healthcare community, even months before the pandemic when PatientBond predicted that 2020 could be the year for telehealth.
So that begs the question: If urgent care centers offer more digital offerings to patients, is it time to shift more of its workforce to being digital too? Before coronavirus, it was predicted that the healthcare workforce would be 30 percent digital in five years.
AI Workforce in Healthcare
Many could argue that COVID-19 was the catalyst for this change, which is a fair assessment, but healthcare has been heading in this direction for some time.
For starters, healthcare costs have skyrocketed and providers are looking for ways to save money. The most efficient way of doing that is incorporating an AI workforce with virtual nursing assistants, robot-assisted surgeries, etc. According to Accenture, AI could help the healthcare industry save $150 billion by 2026. And with the current pandemic into play, that number very well could increase.
Shortage of Workers
There’s no question that the healthcare system is also filled with aging workers that are approaching retirement. As Baby Boomers approach their 60s, the need is far greater than the number of healthcare workers out there with a 46,900 to 121,900 shortage of physicians by 2032. By using AI, you reduce the need for staff for processes and tasks that can be automated.
Lack of Efficiency
The healthcare industry is rife with inefficiencies that could be easily simplified using digital solutions.. For instance, it doesn’t make sense for clinicians to handle patient collections, but two-thirds of them say it takes time away from their patients. Using AI, like a digital patient engagement platform, allows you to utilize your employees for more important tasks, like taking care of patients.
Adopting New Technologies
Before COVID-19, not every provider felt the need to transition to new technology out there, let alone AI. Telehealth, digital reminders and wearables seemed unnecessary and expensive to integrate. But the expense and effort are well worth the cost and the urgent care centers that are currently performing better than others are the ones that implemented this technology prior to the pandemic.
But how does AI benefit urgent care, specifically? A previous blog goes into detail about how AI telehealth is beneficial for urgent care, but many of those principals apply for any type of AI used. As rural hospitals close at alarming rates, local urgent care centers are being heavily depended on by the community for emergency care, more so in the wake of coronavirus. Patients not only value virtual emergency care but are also turning to urgent care due to high emergency care costs at hospitals, which are dramatically higher than urgent care.
As a patient, being able to monitor your health remotely and have your treatment plan created using AI is invaluable when you’re immune-compromised. Urgent Care centers using this technology will keep loyal patients, grow your market share and generate revenue all using technology that saves their center’s money.
AI and Consumer Science
While it’s great that AI can increase revenue and market share, it does a tremendous job of improving health outcomes long-term. Instead of the old model of one check-up a year and maybe a follow-up from your doctor, you can have continuous interactions with your doctor through telehealth, remote monitoring using wearable devices and patient engagement platforms where you can message your doctor and receive digital reminders. Triage using AI allows you to quickly and efficiently determine which patients take priority and helps you quickly determine the cause of illness.
Before the virus, sick patients weren’t using telehealth like they are now to avoid going in the office initially if they’re too sick or if they’re contagious. Now, it’s no-brainer to use these remote monitoring tools because it not only protects your staff from getting sick but also your patients.
There’s an abundance of information out there about coronavirus and as a provider, it’s crucial to be seen as a leader by consistently communicating with your patients and keeping them well informed through AI tools. A great way of supplementing those efforts is by using psychographic segmentation.
Psychographics look at a consumer’s values, beliefs and lifestyle so that providers can communicate with them in a way that encourages behavior change to improve their health. PatientBond uses a short survey to determine which segment each patient is in and uses its own AI to determine what kind of messaging that patient gets. Each time a provider interacts with that patient, the system tweaks its approach to better fit the patient’s ideal preferences.
No patient is the same, so why should the engagement experience be the same? As an urgent care provider, you can feel confident that not only are you improving the health outcomes of your patients through an AI workforce but that you can successfully generate revenue and increase market share too.
Need more market share insights? Our tip sheet has a step-by-step process on how to bring patients to your urgent care.