How Virtual Assistants Are Modernizing Non-Acute Care

April 20, 2022
Hand holding cell phone while digital assistant asks how are you

Non-acute facilities now use virtual and digital care assistants for certain services, such as automatically pre-qualifying patients, verifying insurance benefits and scheduling appointments. On the patient side, the assistants work in at-home monitoring. This means the assistants are delivering value for both providers and patients. 

Most industries—including healthcare—are moving toward digital transformations. This transformation often includes a strategic approach to increase the use of digital devices and technologies to create new or improve existing business and healthcare processes, as well as improve patient experiences.

Modernizing technology and replacing time-consuming manual processes with digital solutions can automate some processes, remove human intervention and accelerate workflows to save time on repetitive tasks. Digital and virtual assistants fit business mandates and objectives to move toward digital processes. According to USA Media House, “Virtual assistant technology has played a significant role in improving healthcare delivery by transforming various processes.”
These processes include assisting with in-room electronic medical record documentation and back-office tasks. Some virtual assistants that use artificial intelligence (AI) can also anticipate and predict a patient’s needs, to help with treatments and diagnoses. Increased usage of the assistants can drive better outcomes. Medical virtual assistants—devices and technologies created specifically for healthcare—can help:

  • Collect demographic patient information
  •  Gather health insurance details
  • Integrate a patient’s health history
  •  Determine costs and financing
  •  Identify procurement details for needed products
  • Analyze patient records for diagnosis

One way the virtual assistants are being used is to provide simple yet personalized service. The devices, especially those that optimize AI, ask patient a series of questions, then provide answers or direct people to relevant resources for specific information.

Hands holding a cell phone displaying a calendar for booking an appointment

Digital and virtual assistants play a different role for patients than they do for non-acute healthcare providers. The devices often assist in patient monitoring by:

  • Reminding patients to take their medicines at proper times
  • Recommending foods and diets for those with nutrition limitations
  • Collecting personal data, including information on sleep and exercise
  • Monitoring blood pressure and other vitals

Some devices are voice enabled, which work like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, to respond to voice commands. Patients speak to the device, then receive health-related information in real time. Patients can also use the devices to call an ambulance, find a local urgent care with the shortest wait time or get answers to questions such as, “Who are the highest rated knee surgeons near me?”

“Among consumers who use technology for health care, 75% told us they rely on digital assistants for reminders or alerts about medications, while 72% of respondents in this group use digital assistants to monitor their health,” according to Deloitte. “More than 80% of millennials say they use digital assistants to monitor health, and 74% use the technology to receive medical alerts.”

Some senior living facilities are now using Amazon voice technology, including Alexa, to connect with family and with staff.

The assistants are expected to become increasingly popular, with senior citizens helping drive usage. According to Mordor Intelligence, “An increase in the chronic disease population, an increase in the aging population, and the demand for home-based monitoring devices are all the major factors driving the growth of the digital assistant in the healthcare market.”

These factors contribute to the growing number of digital assistants used for healthcare, among other purposes. Statista predicts that by 2024, the number of digital voice assistants will reach 8.4 billion units – a number higher than the world’s population.

Man and woman in background talking to a smart speaker assistant

With many healthcare facilities facing staffing shortages, digital and virtual assistants can fill a critical need for providers and deliver new value. With the healthcare industry moving toward more digital processes, medical virtual assistants can deliver increase value.  

Telehealth virtual assistants—which support the trend of virtual care that’s become increasingly in demand during the pandemic—are also now available. These assistants are designed to seamlessly integrate into telemedicine workflows and patient virtual interactions to gather and share information.

The telehealth devices enable HIPAA-compliant virtual meetings between healthcare providers, including physicians, and patients. This allows patients to have an appointment from any location with internet access. Some telehealth platforms offer an interface that can be used with any computer or mobile device to enable a virtual visit, and the platform also integrates with existing systems to help with billing and clinical documentation. 
Facilities interested in implementing digital or virtual assistants for their practice should start by talking to their group purchasing organization (GPOs). GPOs have the technical expertise to recommend devices that best meet a facility’s needs, and also ensure competitive pricing. This helps non-acute facilities get started with virtual assistants in a way that suits their specific needs.

Person in a virtual visit appointment with a doctor on video call

“Telehealth virtual assistants—which support the trend of virtual care that’s become increasingly in demand during the pandemic—are now available. ”

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