The pandemic has enforced a major change in the doctor-patient relationship as a result of the necessary health measures, leading to exponential growth in the number of phone consultations and other tools that form part of telemedicine.
These are tools in which artificial intelligence has a great part to play in the creation of new products that help to offer better and faster patient care.
This support to be provided by artificial intelligence in the world of healthcare stems from the amount of computer data available, whose management now lies beyond human capacity and which requires new tools to organise and understand them.
Chatbots, a step forward
Chatbots, computer applications based on artificial intelligence that can simulate a conversation with a person with automated responses to their questions, constitute a step forward in this pairing of telemedicine and artificial intelligence.
They have gradually become part of telemedicine and are regarded as a reinforcement of patient care, given the fact that they can identify the patients’ profiles, answer their questions and, if necessary, refer them to a medical specialist.
The above comes with the benefits of a 24-hour service adapted to the patient’s needs which learns from its own actions (machine learning).
Chatbots are on their way to becoming the first step in primary care in the near future, “alleviating” the work of the primary care services, establishing an initial selection and referring the patient to a doctor if the user’s problem or query can’t be resolved.
AI is here to stay
There are numerous examples of how telemedicine based on artificial intelligence is here to stay in our lives, including remote patient monitoring.
Although more and more breakthroughs are being made in this area, it has only reached an early stage, but both large companies and startups in the healthcare industry are very much committed to it.
This is the case of the first digital platform that can use artificial intelligence to monitor the evolution of patients with diseases that affect mobility, promoted by the Eurecat technological centre, the Sant Joan de Déu Hospital and The Collider through the Ephion Health company.
This is software that can monitor each patient “objectively and accurately”, either in the hospital or remotely, and analyse their functional capacity by means of artificial intelligence algorithms.
The data are analysed by artificial intelligence algorithms and a single index (with a score from 0 to 100) is obtained, one which is directly related to the patient’s health status.
Other examples of this remote monitoring were showcased at the Lisbon 2021 Web Summit, including the proposal by the Idoven company, which uses artificial intelligence to analyse data via a domestic heart monitoring device that detects irregular frequency rates of potential danger to patients.
This is a service designed for all kinds of people and ages who wish to know their heart’s state of health and rule out cardiac risks without the need to go to a doctor’s surgery and includes a specialised service for sportspeople.
Users in favour of digitisation
It appears evident that telemedicine through new technological tools is a product in demand among users, with or without a pandemic. Thus, 89 per cent of private healthcare users support the use of telemedicine and digitisation in healthcare and medical services.
These are data from the study titled “Digital Patient Experience 2021”, presented by the Institute for the Development and Integration of Health (IDIS Foundation) and carried out on a sample of 1,908 responses distributed among chronic and acute patients, as well as healthy people.
Of the people interviewed in the study, 11% always opt for in-person healthcare, 46% prefer to have alternatives and mixed formulas and 43% have a more technological profile and strongly advocate telemedicine.
Thus, the study concludes, 89% are inclined towards introducing the digitisation of healthcare to a greater or lesser extent.
The study gauges the patient experience in digital care in four areas: access to the healthcare system (73%), prevention (52%), diagnosis (75%) and treatment (59%). It also regards a good digital patient experience (OK) as between 60 and 80 per cent and an ideal experience (WOW) as between 80 and 100 per cent.