Blending Artificial Intelligence with the Human Factor Improves Healthcare

Perspective from Andrew Limouris, Founder, President & CEO of Medix

Despite the urgency with which it’s being discussed these days, AI is not a new thing. And though there is much to learn about how to reap its benefits and curtail its risks, its capacity to improve, and even save lives is astounding. 

But AI must be tempered with the human factor to live up to its full potential, and healthcare is a great example of where this dynamic duo can achieve amazing things.

As a child, I often experienced the need for process improvements in healthcare. My parents emigrated to the United States from Greece in 1970, and I was born in 1971. By 1981, I was attending doctor appointments with them, helping to translate from their native Greek to English. By 1988, I was explaining medical diagnoses, lab results, and medical bills to them. 

Remembering those times gets me excited about what AI can do to help cross communication barriers. I think about situations where patients and healthcare providers can benefit from the kinds of assists now possible through AI to translate and explain. And I think of people like my parents.

Often, we fear AI. Our minds go to outlier threats such as out-of-control robots and cybercriminals. We ponder the idea of AI becoming “too smart.” While I am aware of these concerns, I also know that right-minded experts are aware of them, too, and are working to mitigate any negatives. My focus then goes elsewhere, to AI’s potential to help us map our healthcare journeys, decode complex information, conduct research, devise better medications, and match the right healthcare team with each patient’s unique needs. And that’s just me getting started.

Ready to have your mind blown? A team from the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy is developing technology to help identify and verify pills to prevent pharmaceutical errors. This technology will actually analyze pictures of pills inside their bottles. Forget Superman’s X-ray vision; this technology is actually in development as of this writing. AI is also being used to help researchers better understand diseases, including cancer, where early diagnosis is key to better outcomes.

AI will improve the ways we get all kinds of jobs done. I used to coach football, and at that time, coaches wrote out their plays on a chalkboard. Then they’d put those plays into playbooks, print them out, and hand them to players. Today, coaches use technology to determine which plays work best in specific situations, the average number of yards a play would gain, and so forth. That said, coaches still make the ultimate decisions, and players still execute and run the plays. 

So, while AI provides a wealth of information leading to more strategic ways of doing a job, human beings are still needed to make and carry out decisions. Automation will likely eliminate some jobs, but human oversight will always be needed. 

What we think of as soft skills––empathy and teamwork among them––will continue to be essential if we are to get the most out of AI. That’s just one of the reasons Medix launched MyPrint™, an assessment tool designed to help match individuals with positions that best fit their unique traits, strengths, and motivators. The goal of MyPrint is to set people up for success and position their employers for success, too. I’d love to have you visit to see MyPrint™ in action. 

And as to that concern about job elimination, consider this: One benefit of AI is its capacity to help optimize processes and systems. Perhaps, through AI, we can find ways to clean hospital rooms more effectively or transport patients more safely. And since automation still requires maintenance and oversight, jobs can be created for training and operating the automation systems. The results: rooms cleaned better than humanly possible, patients moved more safely, and people trained and upskilled for opportunities in AI and automation.

Medix uses AI in our healthcare staffing division. We are investigating ways to use matching technology to help automate the process of taking a  new req (open job) already in our system, reviewing it, and finding candidates in our database who fit the criteria, before presenting the matching candidates to the recruiter to initiate contact. This can help save time and money by automating some of the manual processes and freeing up time for recruiters to spend on outreach and personal contact.

Medix also utilizes a chatbot and virtual assistant, allowing recruiters to enter a job posting and have much of the pre-screening done for them. Instead of a recruiter spending an inordinate amount of time reviewing resumes, a chatbot gathers additional information directly from the candidate based on a “conversation” that has already been created. Candidates who meet the qualifications can access a calendar to schedule a phone screening with the recruiter. This method gets recruiters to the right candidate more quickly and gives the applicant some control over interview scheduling. It also provides follow-up to applicants, who, if not a fit, are notified and directed back to our job board. We are also investigating tools to reorganize resumes, draft emails, create job descriptions, and more. 

But no matter how powerful AI technologies can be, they are still just tools. They require human additives such as compassion, goodwill, strategy, and an appreciation of the bigger picture. 

Just imagine––no more 10-year-olds having to translate complex information from English to Greek and back again to help a parent get the right healthcare. 

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