12 Mar Building Out Your Conversational AI Healthcare Roadmap? Here’s How To Approach Regulatory Challenges
Conversational AI can have a range of applications from appointment scheduling to medication management, drastically improving and democratizing patients’ access to care. This is especially significant given the fact that as the population longevity increases, the US is anticipating a shortage of 46,900 to 121,900 physicians by 2032 across primary and specialty care. That’s a significant impact on patient care and services. As we begin the new decade, there is a very real need for technological innovation to fix systemic issues and deliver a positive and timely experience – and conversational AI is helping with exactly this, albeit gradually. The pace of conversational AI adoption in healthcare has been somewhat arrested not just by compliance and regulatory challenges in the industry, but also by the lack of information that comes with venturing into this new territory. Here’s how to tackle compliance challenges that may arise when you’re devising your conversational AI strategy.
A particularly important aspect of conversational AI implementation in healthcare is communicating this change to the various stakeholders involved. The healthcare industry has spent a lot of time, effort and money in educating physicians, nurses and other employees to the importance of patient data privacy, especially those that work with e-PHI. Employees now need to receive training on how to work alongside the virtual agent, for a seamless patient experience. The company must ready information regarding patient data acquisition, storage, integration, transmission, and governance in the context of the conversational AI implementation. This information should then be used to inform and educate external stakeholders such as patients that data privacy regulations are just as rigid with AI and what the company will be doing to ensure that their data is secure. This helps build trust in the brand and is necessary to facilitate adoption of the virtual agent.
Conversational AI technology is maturing and continually evolving. In order for it to do its job, the intelligent virtual agent requires data – lots of it. This means that healthcare firms that are focused on using conversational AI to augment their workforce and improve the patient experience must maintain a high standard of compliance with the HIPAA requirements of security, privacy, and data transmission as well as Protected Health Information (PHI). For instance, when deploying their conversational AI agent “Livi”, UCHealth, in Denver, ensured that the agent fully complied with existing regulatory requirements. The agent is available across a variety of platforms including Alexa and Google Home, helping patients with a plethora of tasks such as managing medication, retrieving test results, and viewing or changing appointments. Given the types of use cases it serves and the information it handles, it is imperative that the conversational AI platform authenticates users with 100% accuracy, before sharing any information such as medical test results, appointment information or messages from healthcare providers.
The US healthcare system is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the United States. IT and legal teams need to work hand in hand to ensure a successful implementation. UCHealth’s virtual care strategy is the result of a collaboration between its Chief Information Officer and Chief Innovation Officer, with the program now live in more than 70 UCHealth specialty and primary care clinics. The company’s approach to conversational AI transformation has resulted in Livi bringing their patients optimal personalized healthcare experiences 24×7 on the communication vehicle of their choice – phone, online, Google Home, Alexa – ensuring patient convenience. The agent successfully answers over 2,000 patient queries each day, schedules over 1,000 doctor’s appointments each month, and automates over 1,000 triage sequences.
Healthcare companies that give serious thought to security and compliance while building their conversational AI roadmap will pave the way for an intelligent and efficient virtual healthcare workforce in the years to come.