Future of Medical Consultation

future of medical consultation

For the patient, even before the treatment starts, it is all about having time, being listened to and having the full attention of the doctor… and maybe vice versa is true as well. Imagine you have a minor allergy and you have been to visit the doctor – the doctor was in a hurry …. such consultation would be as frustrating for the doctor as the patient.

Patients get comfort from that one smile – from that one assurance on doctor’s face when they meet during a consultation – undoubtedly this is a subjective or non-measurable aspect of the entire process.

The consultation also has various dimensions – first consultation, consultation during the treatment and towards or at the end of the treatment. Each calls for a different aspect from the same person!! Our present-day machines lack such qualities e.g. when to be more empathetic, compassionate, etc. and therefore patients would always like that the consultations are being led by human doctors.

There have been efforts to bring in more human touch – and we must appreciate it. One such example is a virtual assistant developed by a medical start-up Sensely. The virtual assistant (let us call it Olivia – one of the avatars from their site), aims to provide help and support in those periods between appointments with real-life professionals. One can choose from the available Avatars to appear it more friendly to you. Olivia would interact with patients & ask relatively simple questions of the patient to guide them through defined plans and to collect defined medical data from them.

This data can then be analysed by a doctor (here also AI analysis is possible). Additionally, the patient can also use Molly to book appointments with their doctor through her.

For such services, a defined path or process is the right candidate. We have reached a stage where such services can be incorporated for patients with common medical conditions such as e.g. diabetes / common heart diseases.  Sensely is surely trying to do more as they offer extra support for a number of chronic conditions.

To complement the EHR, another innovative solution called ACI (Ambient  Clinical Intelligence) is used. The process is done by using ambient sensing technology to securely listen to the clinician-patient encounter conversations while offering workflow and knowledge automation which in a way complements the EHR.

This solution promotes better patient experience. It accurately captures and appropriately contextualize every word of the patient encounter and automatically documenting patient care without taking the physician’s attention off the patient.

Also Read: Benefits of Artificial Intelligence in Medicine

Wow – this can take out a lot of manual documentation/notes taking work from the specialist and will probably allow them to connect well with their patients. This is a good example of how technology can help you to focus on the core area(s).

Recently Nuance Healthcare was awarded Frost & Sullivan’s 2020 Global Company of the Year

Babylon Health has an A.I.-driven solution that uses the patient’s medical history and common medical knowledge. Patients report their symptoms through the app which checks those in a consented medical datasets, patient health records. After that, this data is analysed to rapidly help reason and make decisions about triage, causes of symptoms and future predictions of health.

They offer subscription-based service and also have a deal with the NHS.

There are many similar examples in other areas of consultation. Technologies are helping to speed up the consultation process, are making it more focused more evidence or data-based.

Natural language processing is the process of using of computer algorithms to identify key elements in everyday language & extract meaning from unstructured spoken or written input.  Such efforts will help to take out the meaning from everyday terms from the patient’s story.

It is crucial to be able to predict how severe a patient’s medical condition is –

Whether the patient is vulnerable and at high risk accordingly medical services can be arranged early, appropriate treatment can start early.

Studies are also being conducted as we write this or have already been conducted to check how the technologies can facilitate consulting and triaging even before patients reach the point-of-care.

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