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Why AI is the next way patients will choose their doctors

Why AI is the next way patients will choose their doctors

Topic: Why AI is the next way patients will choose their doctors

Covid-19 has changed the course of healthcare for the foreseeable future. Healthcare workers, doctors’ rooms, and equipment inventories were stretched thin even before the pandemic took hold, with patients waiting weeks or months to get a doctor’s appointment or book a surgery. Today, these resources are nearing the breaking point.

With physicians’ offices and testing facilities closed for in-person appointments, and elective surgeries put on hold, it has become incredibly complicated for patients to find the care they need for pre-existing or non-Covid-19 health issues. They might not be able to see their usual doctor or maybe they’re simply trying to find a provider for the first time. In these instances, patients need as much guidance and insight as they can get in order to achieve their desired outcome, particularly in less than optimal conditions. But traditional resources, such as web reviews, personal recommendations, and media directories, are imperfect solutions.

By combining electronic health records and artificial intelligence, it is now possible to pair patients with the available caregivers most likely to produce the best result—based on data for patients and outcomes across providers. Such approaches offer improved care outcomes, satisfaction, access and affordability.

Breakdown of the five-star system

The five-star review system is a popular tool for rating and selecting the best restaurants, films, hotels, and refrigerators. But when it comes to helping people choose the best doctor, it has significant limitations.

The internet has enabled people to share opinions about doctors, hospitals, and nursing homes on many ratings sites. Web reviews of healthcare providers are enormously popular, but the data these ratings provide are not personalized for each individual’s needs. They may also be influenced by factors other than objective long-term outcomes, such as preventing future hospital admissions or avoidable emergency room visits.

The problem with the five-star system with regards to healthcare boils down to this: you are not like your best friend, your neighbor, or the woman who posted a glowing review online about her cardiologist. You are unique. You should select the doctor who can best address your personalized healthcare needs and attain the best outcomes.

The healthcare characteristics of each individual can greatly vary. Finding the best doctor suited to handle such nuanced health complexities poses a far more daunting and consequential challenge than asking about which restaurant has the best deep-dish pizza in town.

The system is further complicated when the doctors that patients research are not available to treat them, either in-office or via a telehealth solution. Because Covid-19 can lead to a scarcity of caregivers especially when looked at within geographies, the system is even more complicated while yet the need for highly qualified doctors, especially for vulnerable members of society who may have multiple comorbidities, has never been more urgent. Needs for care outside of Covid-19 have not dissipated at all.

Choosing healthcare has been a game of chance

In recent years, studies have concluded that popular rating systems have the potential to confuse consumers on the selection of hospitals. One reason is that despite existing data which tracks patient outcomes for each physician, it is nearly impossible for the public to access, compare, or understand that data in a simple way. Then consider that some doctors have been deployed to the front lines of the Covid-19 fight while others are forced to the side lines, and patients are truly at a loss for accurate provider information.

Picking a provider was simple when there were few options; patients relied on whatever doctor or hospital was nearest. As the number of options has grown however, provider selection has increasingly relied on recommendations from friends and family, or the advice of trusted third parties like family physicians or perhaps a publication. US News & World Report started publishing its annual list of the country’s top hospitals in 1990. It remains influential in patient decision-making to this day.

Topic Discussed: Why AI is the next way patients will choose their doctors

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