HealthOctober 19, 2023

Advancing patient engagement with conversational artificial intelligence

The healthcare ecosystem is shifting. Providers and organizations are continuing to seek ways to reduce costs, improve efficiencies, and meet value-based care requirements, with the focus on improving health outcomes for patients.

Editor's Note: After the Frost & Sullivan award was announced, the Emmi name was updated to join the UpToDate brand. Learn about UpToDate patient and member engagement solutions.

As healthcare decentralizes and patients increasingly approach their personal care with digital tools, how can technology play a role in achieving these goals and creating partnerships between patients and their care teams?

Research shows effective patient engagement can have a direct impact on treatment outcomes, patient satisfaction and health, as well as service provider productivity. By engaging with patients beyond the care setting, providers can effectively help patients take a more active role in their health journey.

One way of helping patients stay engaged with their health is through voice outreach programs. Recognized for a 2023 Frost & Sullivan Competitive Strategy Leadership Award, the Emmi® patient engagement solution is differentiated by its best practices in global conversational artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare. Frost & Sullivan also acknowledged the expert content and advanced technologies in Emmi that help contribute towards improving healthcare efficiencies, quality, and outcomes.

Engaging patients through AI-powered outreach

Conversational AI is everywhere – from voice assistants to website chatbots, we ask questions of various AI technology in our homes, on our phones, at work, and in our cars. In their 2023 report, Frost & Sullivan estimates the global conversational AI market will reach $2.34 billion by 2027. Applying it to healthcare and patient engagement is part of a digital revolution in the industry, especially when it can help with patient outreach in areas like appointment reminders and medication adherence.

“Our Voice & Conversational Interfaces team writes and builds our outbound interactive voice response (IVR) patient engagement voice calls,” says Freddie Feldman, Director of Voice & Conversational Interface for Emmi. “They are currently experimenting with the potential of utilizing large language models (LLMs) and conversational AI with a human-in-the-loop approach to fast-track our process for creating high-quality patient content.”

The right application of conversational AI can make a difference. The hospital of the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) saw a 75% lower cancellation rate in patients who had a scheduled endoscopy or colonoscopy when they used automated voice outreach as part of their patient engagement program.

Incorporating diversity into conversational AI

However, outreach efforts are only effective if patients can relate to them. Ensuring the voices in conversational AI are empathetic is a key focus of the team as well as diversifying patient content, images, and voices to represent a broad range of cultures.

“For years, we’ve been working to incorporate DE&I into our voice programs,” says Feldman. “In 2020, we added a new racially inclusive voice to our EmmiJourneys, EmmiOutreach, and EmmiEngage programs. The hope was to better connect with the Black community to help overcome historical health inequities that have been so pervasive in the US. We’ve also recently kicked off a research study to measure the efficacy of racially-matching patients with the voices in voice interfaces.”

Expert patient content to advance engagement and equity

As the care ecosystem decentralizes, healthcare providers and payers are looking to ensure patients are getting the best possible health information wherever they seek care. One way to do that is to ensure patient education is aligned with the same information clinicians use.

Frost & Sullivan also noted patient content as a competitive advantage. As the only solution aligned with UpToDate® clinical decision support, the patient educational materials are expertly reviewed and provide health and drug guidance for patients beyond the care setting. This can help increase patient trust and empower them to become partners in their own health journey. Engaging with patients through interactive, dynamic mediums can help them better understand their care plans, and healthcare organizations can extend their reach beyond the clinical setting.

Personalizing patient outreach

By combining the targeted ability of conversational AI outreach with the diverse patient materials, healthcare organizations can personalize outreach efforts to patient populations.

The MetroHealth System in Cleveland, Ohio integrated Emmi as part of its strategic, multi-pronged focus on patient engagement and partnerships. They applied DE&I principles to their engagement programs and used diverse video, print, and audio materials from Emmi and saw an increase in engagement from demographic groups that previously were less likely to respond.

The importance of engaging patients in their healthcare journey

With the strategic combination of automated outreach and engaging content, healthcare providers and partners can make strides in improving patient engagement. By deploying technology as part of a greater patient engagement strategy, one hospital saw measurable improvements in engagement programs, including fewer emergency department visits, lower readmission rates, and improved adherence with follow-up appointments.

As the shift towards value-based care continues, healthcare organizations can partner with their patients through award-winning engagement platforms to improve the care experience and health outcomes.

Read the full Frost & Sullivan announcement and why they chose UpToDate patient engagement and member engagement solutions (formerly Emmi) for a 2023 Competitive Strategy Leadership Award.

Read The Press Release
Learn More About Patient Engagement Solutions

UpToDate Patient Engagement

Engage every patient in their care journey

Easy-to-use interactive programs, featuring conversational language and relatable examples, help you foster connections and extend your team’s reach beyond healthcare settings.

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