I april arrangerade Forum för Health Policy en studieresa till London för att träffa och lära av två framstående brittiska tankesmedjor – Nuffield Trust och Health Foundation. Vi besökte också den sjuksköterskeledda kliniken Cuckoo Lane Surgery och nätläkarbolaget Babylon Health. Vi passade på att intervjua de vi träffade, om deras verksamhet och om hur de ser på hälso- och sjukvården i England idag. Intervjuerna publicerar vi idag på vår hemsida och veckans blogginlägg är skrivet av Ali Parsa, grundare av Babylon Health.

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AliParsa

How AI and Digitisation Are Humanizing Healthcare Services

Ali Parsa

If you’re like most of us, you’re already using artificial intelligence on a daily basis.

In fact, if you’ve ever used Siri, Google Maps or tagged a photo of a friend on Facebook, you can go ahead and call yourself a proud AI-user. As futuristic as it may sound, AI is already a part of our everyday lives. And its influence is only expected to grow as it continues to breathe new life into timeworn industries like customer service, manufacturing, and of course, healthcare.

According to the UK Office for National Statistics, over 137 million working days are lost due to sickness and injury. And the problem isn’t just physical. Mental health issues cost UK employers roughly £35 billion per year. But big problems are exactly the kind AI is great at solving. And it’s not as cold and technical as it may sound.

More Accessibility, Less Time Waiting

Taking care of your wellbeing shouldn’t be an inconvenience.

But unfortunately, the common practice in many countries is for patients to wait for hours, days, or even weeks — just to get the medical attention they need. For working professionals in particular, taking a day off or skipping is not always something they can afford to do. Many employees, including working parents, feel pressured to decide between their health and their work — a choice that no one should ever have to make.

In other cases, a person’s illness is exactly what prevents them from seeing a healthcare professional. Some individuals may simply be too physically or mentally ill to leave their beds, especially when there is no guarantee they’ll get the help they need when they need it. But with AI-powered digital health, patients can spend significantly less time in the hospital and get the help they need without ever leaving the home or office.

Digital health tools like babylon and GP at Hand use AI to give patients fast advice on what to do next when they’re feeling unwell. These tools can automatically connect patients with a certified GP or mental health professional directly from their mobile phones and within just two hours of requesting an appointment.

Respecting a Patient’s Right to Privacy 

One of the biggest roadblocks to treating mental illness is facing the stigma that comes with it.

People who suffer from mental health problems fear they would be labelled as ”overly dramatic” or ”crazy” if others were to find out they are seeing a therapist — and their fears aren’t unfounded. According to a recent report from the UK Department for Work and Pensions and Department of Health and Social Care, around 300,000 people lose their jobs every year due to long-term mental health problems.

Using information from a range of qualified medical and healthcare practitioners, AI can answer a patient’s most urgent physical or mental health questions in total privacy. This could be especially important for the growing number of millennial patients. In fact, findings from consulting firm, PWC show that 55% of 18-24 year olds are willing to engage with digital technology and AI that can help them answer health questions, perform tests, make a diagnosis and recommend treatment.

And for patients requiring a face-to-face consultation, an AI-powered digital health tool can automatically schedule a virtual appointment with a healthcare professional, eliminating the patient’s fear of being spotted at the clinic and reducing the risk of a patient going untreated.

Making Healthcare More Human

AI is not meant to replace doctors. It’s meant to make life as a doctor easier.

As described in a report from the UK Government, Robotics and AI (RAI) technologies “perform useful tasks for us in the real world, extending our capabilities, increasing our productivity and reducing our risks.” AI makes healthcare systems more productive in some very important ways. One great example is an AI developed by researchers at an Oxford hospital which can quickly and accurately diagnose scans for lung cancer and even provide treatment recommendations based on a patient’s risk level.

In some cases, early and accurate diagnosis may help save a patient’s life. And by using AI to get faster results, doctors can spend less time behind computer screens and more time connecting with patients. AI is now sophisticated enough to automate many of the healthcare system’s most repetitive tasks, freeing healthcare practitioners to focus their time and energy on how to best treat a patient. From robot-assisted surgery, to virtual GP appointments and administrative workflow assistance, AI and digitisation are removing the healthcare bottlenecks and creating more quality time between doctors and patients.

Ready for the healthcare system of the future?

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Ali Parsa kom till England som 14-åring från Iran och 2013 grundade han Babylon – företaget med mottot ”accessible and affordable health service into the hands of every person on earth”. Babylon är det tredje bolaget Ali startat och han har belönats flertalet gånger för sitt entreprenörskap, bl.a. med priser som Royal Award for the Young Entrepreneur of the yearoch Healthcare Entrepreneurial Achievement Award.

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