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Exploring AI and tech to enhance the patient experience

As the healthcare industry engages more with AI and technological solutions, measuring whether it advances Human Understanding, the gold standard for patient experience care, is imperative.  

While AI can be flexible, revolutionary, advanced, hopeful, efficient, impactful, and innovative, it can also be robotic, cold, scary, risky, and potentially hazardous.  

But what if technology really allowed us to be more human? Allowed us to do the things we can only do that technology and AI cannot do? 

What if it really emphasized those human relationships and connections? 

“AI really represents change—and it’s a lot less of a change than we think. AI is already in our lives, and Netflix knows what we want to watch. It’s already in health care with natural language processing. But the thought of change is somewhat disturbing sometimes. So is AI friend or foe?” asks Peggy Greco, Ph.D., Chief Patient Experience Officer, Nemours Children’s Health, at the recent 2024 NRC Health Pediatric Collaborative. 

Check out Dr. Greco’s full presentation from the 2024 Pediatric Collaborative.

AI solutions for improving the healthcare experience

Virtual Nursing: A “virtual nurse” is a nurse who is on site but not at your bedside. This nurse may connect to your room virtually and help you and your child through your admission and discharge or other care-related tasks, such as reviewing medications. 

Nemours Children’s Health, over time, has had patients view virtual nursing as helpful, calming, and comforting, which reinvigorates a nurse’s passion for caring—but it must meet the criteria they look for in equity, quality, and safety. 

When asking, ‘Is it effective?’ we must consider all the different perspectives. So, we’re not just talking about it from an administrator or financial point of view. Is it effective for patients and families? Is it effective for medical staff or providers? We really have to consider all of these perspectives as we look at these potential solutions,” Greco says. 

When looking at quality and safety, patients say it enhanced patient and caregiver understanding, with measurable improvement in near misses and good catches, such as medication errors and duplications. 

It also identified some systemic issues in communication between our discharging providers and the pharmacy and some of the conflicts and information. So, we’re also seeing a positive impact on quality and safety for virtual nursing,” she says. 

AI Documentation Tool (AIDT): This is an app that providers have on their phones and use by opening it up during an encounter to capture a natural conversation that’s going on during that interaction.  

The documentation tool uses natural language processing to learn from that provider, improving over time to put together a draft of a complete clinical note by the end of the visit.

Originally, Nemours Children’s Health started with a pilot of 6 providers using the tool, which they tracked for six months. 

“We had a ten-point improvement in care provider listened, almost five points in care provider explained, five points in received clear information, and four and a half in had input in care. So, this was pretty striking. But we also thought there was a newness and excitement around it, so we continued to track. And, like most initiatives where you have that initial positive result, we thought we may see a tapering. But instead, when we looked at another six months—a year out from starting the technology— the maintenance scores reflected almost the same with only one exception,” Greco says.

Assessment of impact on patient and provider experience

Greco said providers felt less burned out and more energized. Providers reported: 

  • “I find myself enjoying my time in the room with patients and families more – as I can have a conversation and not feel burdened to document as I go or feel that I need to hold all the information in my brain until I can ‘download’ it at the end of the clinic session or day.” 
  • “It has allowed me to focus more on my patients during my time with them but not at the expense of leaving more documentation for me later.” 
  • “I enjoy not being on the computer as much during the visits and enjoy my interactions with patients more during the time in the room.” 

Optimizing Human Understanding through technological advances

Greco says you must evaluate whether these tools are friends or foes of health care for your organization.  

“Some leaders may have that negative impression and assume it’s a foe. It’s scary. It’s intimidating. It’s like the Terminator coming into our hospital. But there is potential for it to be our friend and positive. And as you weigh these different potential solutions that you may use, I want to stress again the importance of remembering to look at all the different perspectives.” 

Click here to view the entire presentation from the NRC Health 2024 Pediatric Conference.