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Empowering patients and providers: the role of generative AI in bridging the gap


Computer-generated help will allow primary care physicians to make more, better connections with their patients.

robot hand ai medical connection: © Production Perig - stock.adobe.com

© Production Perig - stock.adobe.com

Patients today expect more from their health care providers than ever before. Physicians and other clinicians must focus on the patient experience and provide the best care, all while keeping up with running their practices, which is putting a growing amount of pressure on them to do it all. With the rise in patient expectations, providers can turn to modern technology tools like artificial intelligence (AI) to address admin challenges and decrease operational overhead.

Branden Neish 

Branden Neish

As primary care physicians and other providers look to new solutions to assist in managing practices and meeting ever-changing patient expectations, we’ve seen growth in the adoption of AI technologies, specifically generative AI tools that have gained traction in small health care business settings. These tools assist providers in streamlining administrative tasks, such as appointment scheduling, billing, and record-keeping, freeing up more time for patient care. Along with simply relieving clinicians of administrative tasks, there is another side to the power of AI: its ability to bridge the gap between patients and providers.

AI as a catalyst for improved patient communication

A common misconception when advocating for the use of AI in health care settings is that it is not able to relay the same level of understanding, and sometimes empathy, as a real person. While a doctor’s knowledge and human interaction cannot be replaced, AI does have the ability to display empathy when patients need it most.

Generative AI can understand patients' emotions and concerns by breaking down complex medical jargon into easy-to-digest information. A Johns Hopkins Study found “ChatGPT to be more empathic” than doctors' responses, pointing to the opportunity for doctors to use this tool to their advantage so they can focus on treating patients. Utilizing the technology in tandem with the human touch is where providers will see the most success.

Similarly, AI can provide context-sensitive information that aligns with patients' needs. The technology is gaining traction among providers, with Gartner finding that over half of providers plan to deploy AI tools in their health care facilities by the end of 2023. As such, many providers are rapidly identifying how AI can help them achieve patient-centered health care.

The unexpected benefits of AI-generated responses in patient interactions

Beyond patient interactions, AI has an endless number of use cases in health care settings and can even be seen as the ultimate work assistant. With more patients sending questions via email, text, or through a patient portal, AI can help provide quick and accurate responses to common queries. By reducing the amount of time providers need to spend responding to these queries, they have more face time with patients and can ultimately experience less burnout by reducing the amount of administrative work on their plates.

If providers want to use AI as a work assistant, they can use it to streamline online review responses to bolster their business on the web and get more patients through the door. Online reviews are increasingly important for practices in attracting new patients.In Weave’s 2023 Healthcare Business Insights Report, 77% of offices said online reviews are vital to growing their business, but only 41% regularly ask patients for reviews after their appointment. Tools such as review reminders and response assistants can leverage AI to help craft personalized responses to customer reviews, saving staff time and helping manage their online reputation and practice reviews.

Bridging the gap: translating complex medical terminology

It’s often intimidating for patients to speak up and ask their doctors to explain a complex medical term or go more in-depth explaining a diagnosis. Although doctors want patients to ask these questions, the reality is that medical jargon can be difficult to understand and introverted patients may turn to a search engine instead of asking their provider directly. But, with generative AI there is another way.

Generative AI tools can break down complex medical terms into easily understandable language, empowering patients to grasp important information about their health. The beauty of AI tools is that they can simplify and transform medical terminology into layman's terms. The natural language processing capabilities of AI tools enable them to analyze and interpret medical terms to generate simplified explanations for patients.

For example, when asking AI to “explain what the medical term Anosognosia means,” it conveyed an in-depth answer that explained what the medical term is, and even went as far as explaining Anosognosia “in simpler terms,” without being prompted to do so. With complex medical jargon being translated with care, precision, and empathy, health care information is now more accessible, and greater patient comprehension is being fostered.

These tools encourage proactive patient engagement by getting patients involved in their own care and providing patients with a safe space to ask questions they might hesitate to ask health care providers directly.

The potential of AI to revolutionize the patient experience

AI is playing a transformative role in health care, addressing provider challenges and enhancing the patient experience. Now is the time for providers to embrace AI tools as valuable resources to improve patient care and communication, decrease provider and staff burnout, and ultimately get more patients through the door.

With thoughtful implementation, physicians can integrate AI tools effectively into their practices, easing administrative burdens. AI has the potential to create long-term benefits for patients and providers with improved patient satisfaction, more time for personalized patient interactions, and enhanced health care outcomes.

Branden Neish is chief product and technology officer at Weave. Before joining Weave, he served in multiple leadership positions including CEO of Gear.com, CEO of Agemni, and vice president of product and integrations at Progressive Leasing.

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