Generative AI

AI and ML: The Cure for Navigating Healthcare Complexities and Concerns

Patrick Higgins
Partner & VP, Business Development

Whether you’re a patient, provider, or payor, navigating the healthcare system is inherently complex. Healthcare is one of the most highly regulated industries — and increasingly so.1 Compliance boundaries coupled with massive amounts of sensitive, decentralized data can bog down even the most routine provider and payor procedures while negatively impacting patient care and experience.

My colleague Sydnor recently wrote about how emerging tech like AI offers energizing solutions to the inefficiencies and complexities leading to provider burnout. But how do we know we can trust these rapidly evolving technologies? Generative AI solutions like LLMs can produce hallucinations, and free-form conversational assistants introduce compliance risks.

WillowTree’s Data and AI Research Team (DART) has developed a “defense-in-depth” framework that protects against this misinformation, AI-generated biases, or responses falling outside the guardrails of a heavily regulated industry.

That’s one reason why a leading North American financial services firm chose WillowTree to prototype their next-gen chatbot experience: like healthcare, the financial services industry is brimming with sensitive client data and compliance regulations that demand accuracy and reliability. In just eight weeks, we delivered a safe, secure, modular architecture we can adapt to any industry — including healthcare.

Even amid complex healthcare industry regulations, AI technologies like machine learning and voice tech can safely and efficiently:

  • guide more data-driven decision-making;
  • simplify information sharing across complex organizations;
  • streamline time-intensive processes.

AI and ML reduce patient/consumer frustration, increase healthcare literacy, and provide efficient access to individualized information. We look forward to sharing these solutions with you at the ViVE Conference. Join us in Las Vegas at Booth 1118.

In the meantime, here’s how we’re incorporating AI to power more efficient, intuitive, and informative digital healthcare experiences.

Machine Learning Guides More Data-Driven Decision-Making

What if finding a doctor was as easy as a dating app? What about an in-network doctor accepting new patients, located less than 25 miles away, and available for telehealth appointments? And you’re looking for as real-time, up-to-date results as possible. Or, maybe you recently had a subpar experience enrolling in your company’s healthcare plan.

Over half of US consumers have had problems using their health insurance in the past year or don’t understand aspects of their coverage. Nearly one-third don’t know what they will owe on medical bills or what their insurance will cover.1

Using custom-built, machine-learning matching algorithms, we can help prospective patients find the right doctor or appropriate insurance coverage for their unique needs.

In collaboration with Edward Jones, we built a similar, AI-powered compatibility matching solution that pairs prospective clients with financial advisors. Thus far, our work has garnered a 14% increase in client conversion rates and a 34% decrease in time spent to close new leads. Through routine A/B testing, we’re continuing to optimize the user journey.

Applying similar machine learning solutions in healthcare could help patients make more informed decisions about their care and coverage.

Natural Language Processing Simplifies Information Sharing

In partnership with a global healthcare equipment and services provider, we delivered another machine learning solution that uses natural language processing (NLP), natural language understanding (NLU), text-processing techniques, and deep learning models to identify relationships between entities within unstructured text.

WillowTree’s work eliminated diagnostic bottlenecks, improved diagnostic accuracy, and reduced the overall cost of care for consumers.

Using optical character recognition (OCR), we trained our algorithms to classify and segment the results of medical exams — supplementing the work of human doctors and making diagnoses faster, easier, and more accurate. Securely removing personally identifiable information (PII) and protected health information (PHI) was essential in translating these large datasets (which included raw text and image data) into workable, anonymized research data.

Our work will support longitudinal studies that will ultimately inform better patient care, lower costs, and democratize healthcare access.

Conversational AI Streamlines Time-Intensive Processes

Patients who call their doctor’s office or visit their insurance provider’s website or app do so for a handful of common reasons. They want to reschedule an appointment, review coverage details, find in-network providers, and check their deductibles or copays.

Conversational AI tools give patients instant access to this critical, oft-accessed information. It eliminates the need for lengthy phone calls (expensive for providers) or long searches through complex online portals (frustrating for patients). AI-powered intent classification can handle most questions and instructions, referring complex issues to medical professionals when needed.

Today, we imagine next-gen, voice-enabled AI as “concierge” services for our clients. Imagine hearing a summary of thousands of specialized provider reviews on your way to picking up kids from school, hands-free, and read-aloud in your preferred speaking style.

Or, envision caring for an elderly family member who’s just fallen in their home. Through fall detection, speech evaluation, and spatial technology, your Google Nest Hub, Vision Pro, or Apple Watch could communicate with that family member and alert you and the paramedics if they need help.

This personalized, concierge-like assistance is possible through conversational AI, NLP, OCR, and predictive- and sentiment analysis.

We’re working on all of it right now.

Want to Hear More? Join us at ViVE.

We’re taking our best team of AI/ML and healthcare experts to ViVE. Join us at Booth 1118 to explore what’s next in digital health.  

Not Headed to ViVE? Let’s Connect Anyway.

Our thought leaders and product experts are at the forefront of emerging tech and healthcare. We’re ready to share that expertise with you, so we hope you’ll contact WillowTree today.


Sources

[1] Regulatory Challenges Increasing Among Medical Practices

Patrick Higgins
Partner & VP, Business Development

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