Artificial Intelligence (AI) has unlocked new possibilities that are pushing boundaries in healthcare. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs partnered with an AI company to create a system that diagnoses a deadly kidney disease up to 48 hours faster than a human could.
Virtual patients are utilized by medical schools, and Moxi the robot can be found in a Philadelphia-area hospital, performing non-clinical tasks so nurses can focus on their patients. The CDC says AI was even used as a research and public health tool at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. AI advancements are quickly reshaping the healthcare experience for both the provider and the patient.
Beyond its critical uses in life-saving equipment, diagnosis, and treatment, AI can be harnessed to create innovative solutions on the administrative side — particularly through payment technologies. Let’s dive into three ways AI can improve healthcare outside the exam room.
AI can quickly analyze trends in a data set of payments to then create a database of typical charges for a given type of service or insurance. That would give patients — at the very least — a predicted range for the cost of an appointment or procedure. It wouldn’t be an exact number, but at least patients would have some sort of idea of how much money they will be spending. This would create more transparency between the provider and patient, therefore increasing trust in the relationship. AI is going to help the healthcare industry handle costs and payments in a clearer, more open way.
As the impact of COVID-19 continues to unfold, it is becoming abundantly clear we can no longer separate physical and fiscal care – patients cannot afford it. Provider payment systems and practice management solutions, too often regarded as an afterthought, can play a significant role in the financial well-being of patients by preventing the accumulation of debt and absorbed costs.
In the coming years, the lasting implications of the pandemic will no doubt result in a financial burden that compounds these challenges, creating an urgent need to streamline payments and administrative tasks on behalf of patients.
A Patient Need, Unfulfilled
The effect of inefficient and inflexible payments is best understood on a broad scale. According to a 2021 study by Rectangle Health and PYMNTS1, there is a significant disconnect between the payment solutions patients are interested in and the solutions they are offered. Per the study, 63% of patients are “very” or “extremely interested” in using payment plans, though only 44% were offered them. Many patients are also interested in access to digital payments, but they are not offered options either.
To put this financial disconnect into a medical equivalent, consider a patient with a heart condition who is dependent on the provider administering swift and decisive treatment. Waiting to get treatment would only exacerbate the issue and have potentially fatal consequences. Similarly, an inefficient practice management system that allows a patient to miss payments builds debt. The consequences in practice management, however, are not restricted to a single patient – others may absorb costs, too, build debt of their own and the entire practice can be put at risk.
Medical debt has a significant and well-documented impact on patient health. When patients miss payments, they are more likely to avoid their provider and assume they cannot afford to treat new health issues that emerge. A 2016 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation2 found that about three out of 10 patients reported problems getting health care they needed directly as a result of unpaid bills. Those struggling with bankruptcy are even less likely to seek medical attention when needed, but luckily a bankruptcy attorney on a site like Stoneroselaw.com should be able to help.