Why did you originally choose a career in health care?

Or if you are exploring the field, why are you interested in it? Do you enjoy spending your days searching large databases of patient outcomes for particular treatments?

No? Didn’t think so. Most people pursue careers in health care because they want to directly help people. They want to feel the real, tangible difference in helping people be healthier and live better lives.

And that’s exactly why you should a big fan of artificial intelligence (AI).

Yes, AI has the potential to free health care professionals from the time-consuming, technology-oriented tasks that consume so much of their day and return them to focusing on direct patient care, according to Suzanne Taddei*, who recently earned an MBA through Capella University’s FlexPath format. Her final project focused on the topic of AI in health care.

“AI can absolutely help health care professionals spend more time on direct patient care and less on mundane tasks,” Taddei says. “It can free us up to be more critical thinkers and to be more deeply involved with the people we are caring for. In addition, it can complete enormous and complex tasks that we simply don’t have the bandwidth or resources to complete.”

Example: AI in Nursing Case Management

For example, Taddei is using AI in her work as a senior clinical operations director for a major health care organization to help enhance the centralized auditing process. Her organization has historically hired registered nurses to complete audits from previously recorded calls between health insurance members and nurse case managers. Due to the expense of that model, only two recorded calls have been audited among thousands each month. But with AI, Taddei says they will be able to automate auditing of 100 percent of calls, enabling the quality audit team to deliver more comprehensive feedback to clinical managers.

That is just one example of how AI can be used in the health care environment. Taddei offers the following steps to advance artificial intelligence into a health care organization:

1.  Build It From the Ground Up

As with most potentially transformative new ideas, the best ways to implement them and identify where they are most needed come from those closest to the work: the front-line, direct-care providing employees. Start there when exploring how AI can benefit a health care organization. Ask them what’s working well, where the pain points are, what are the processes and procedures taking them away from their primary duties. In doing so, you’ll not only identify where and how AI can be most beneficial, but you’ll give those employees a sense of ownership and a vested stake in its success.

“Where I work, we have a program called Bright Ideas, which actively solicits new and innovative ideas from everyone in the organization,” says Taddei. “Everyone has the opportunity to be that person who comes up with the next big idea to move the business forward. That’s exactly the type of groundswell of ideas that is needed to launch an artificial intelligence program within a health care organization. It is the front-line employees who know where the opportunities are. They are intimately aware of what is preventing them from delivering the best possible patient care. Get feedback from the people who are closest to where your service or product meets the market.”

2.  Demonstrate the ROI

In addition to the potential to make health care employees’ jobs more rewarding and patient-centric, AI holds the promise to make health care delivery more efficient and cost effective.

AI can take those complicated yet repetitive or rote tasks that employees are doing now and do them faster and more efficiently. But that needs to be proven for an AI program to be widely adopted at an organization.

“Once you’ve collected the ideas for how AI can improve upon specific tasks and procedures, it’s critical to pilot and test those ideas,” Taddei says. “That testing and demonstration of the potential benefit is critical. For AI to be widely adopted and implemented systematically, it needs to be included in a health care organization’s capital expenditure budget. That’s only going to happen if you measurably demonstrate the impact.”

3. Test, Evaluate, Repeat

Once you have secured organizational and leadership buy-in of the benefits of AI, the next step is to implement AI through a thoughtful process of continuous improvement. Test and evaluate the success of AI initiatives every step of the way. Carefully track and document what worked well and what didn’t. Just as importantly, socialize and evangelize the benefits of AI initiatives with other areas of the organization that could benefit from what it has to offer.

“The importance of making health care more affordable and more efficient can’t be overstated,” Taddei concludes. “AI can help enormously in doing that. The health care industry is really on the cusp of fully leveraging the potential of AI. All of us in health should embrace the chance to use technologies like artificial intelligence to make our health care system better.”

Explore how you can develop the critical-thinking mindset to tackle the biggest issues in your field through Capella University’s FlexPath format.

* Actual Capella graduate who agreed to appear in Capella promotional materials

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