With the recent explosion of artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, the healthcare space is seeing an expansion in new tools and digital capabilities. Recently, an AI learning model outperformed traditional methodologies in detecting heart attacks from echocardiogram (ECG) data. AI has the power to revolutionize the digital user experience in a multitude of ways, as patients and providers alike have gained access to enhanced digital experiences. Artificial intelligence can streamline and optimize traditionally lengthy processes, providing patients with a higher standard of care.

Currently, chatbots are the most common way users interact with AI in the healthcare space. CI keeps apprised of these AI tools, and recently conducted two deep dives into patient portal virtual assistants and chatbots for both our Health Plan and Health Systems subscription research services. The following are some examples from those reports of innovative AI tools, chatbots and otherwise, improving the healthcare digital experience.

AI Can Help Providers Spend More Time with Patients

A screenshot showing the Yale New Haven Health Virtual Assistant
Yale New Haven Health Virtual Assistant

Amidst a critical shortage of mental healthcare providers, AI-powered tools optimize typically time-consuming or inefficient processes, lightening provider workloads and enabling them to spend more time interacting with patients for a higher quality of care. The AI tool Aiberry, for example, can provide insights by analyzing visual, audio and language from patient telehealth screening visits, giving providers more concrete data to better track and understand patient responses to treatment. A provider using this tool noted that employing AI during online check-in sessions allowed patients’ true therapy sessions to lengthen from an hour to an hour and a half. The provider also noted that patients who may have been averse to pen-and-paper intake forms reported enjoying interacting with the tool, which includes software that patients may download onto their personal computers.

Patients and providers are also beginning to use AI in digital medication management. AI-powered medication reminder apps such as EveryDose enable patients to stay on top of their care plans by creating customized reminders, providing personalized educational information, and tracking progress for patients and their care teams. Providers can also implement AI to bolster patient safety and support prescription management by employing tools such as MedAware, which uses AI to review patient data and identify patient risks, such as medications that do not align with the patient’s diagnoses.

AI Tools Can Help Users Navigate Patient Portals

On patient portals, AI can play a critical role in facilitating users’ interactions with the sites. In two recent Health Plan Monitor and Health Systems Monitor reports, Corporate Insight conducted in-depth research into the virtual assistants and chatbots offered by a range of insurers and health systems. Of the health systems covered, 67% offer a virtual assistant on their patient portals. Only three firms offer AI-powered virtual assistant capabilities integrated into their chat tools, facilitating a smooth handoff between an AI chat and a conversation with a live agent.

In the health plans space, virtual assistants make use of AI to provide contextual information about members’ coverage and benefits, providing valuable understanding and support for users who may be unfamiliar with important terminology. Anthem BCBS stands out in offering an AI chat tool that enables navigation assistance. Members can enter their query, and the tool provides an answer, but also automatically navigates the member to the appropriate member site page for further information.

A screenshot showing the Anthem BCBS Virtual Assistant
Anthem BCBS Member Site Virtual Assistant

For more insights into VA tools on patient portals, see CI’s Health System Monitor and Health Plan Monitor reports on virtual assistants, as well as ongoing coverage in the Health Plan Monitor Update. And register for our free August 9 webinar on AI chatbots in financial services.

Margaret Bannon

Margaret Bannon is an analyst on CI's healthcare research team.