PetalMD's president, Patrice Gilbert, was an expert speaker at the 6th Annual National Forum on Patient Experience this past September 25, 2018 in Toronto. His conference on How Artificial Intelligence Can Adapt Physician Schedules to Patient Needs did not go unnoticed by hospital directors and administrators, who are responsible for the quality of services offered to patients. These executives are constantly looking for solutions to improve the efficiency of their healthcare facilities.
Three Issues that Threaten Access to Healthcare According to the President of PetalMD
Canadians wait longer to see a doctor than residents in 10 other industrial countries according to an International Health Policy Survey from the Commonwealth Fund. Among several factors that explain this situation, Mr. Gilbert highlighted the following three factors: inefficient management tools, an ageing population and limits on government spending.
1. Inefficient Management Tools
Fax machines, pagers and paper agendas constitute tools that are obsolete and unproductive. They also dramatically increase the risk of error and miscommunication every time information is updated or distributed. A single transcription or communication error can create a snowball effect which slows down communication processes between doctors, even jeopardizing patient safety.
Typical Communication Process
Improved Communication Process
2. An Ageing Population Combined with Labour Shortages
As is the case in several areas, the health sector is experiencing a labour shortage and there are several indications that this problem will not be easily resolved. The ageing of the population, significant increases in personnel who are retiring, the arrival of younger staff who are more likely to take parental leave and a larger number of elderly requiring end of life care are some of the factors that coupled together suggest a significant labour shortage for hospital settings.
3. Limited Government Finances and Increased Spending
In Canada in 2017, $242 billion dollars of health expenditure were invested to improve access to health care. Despite important contributions from citizens, despite increasing expenditures from governments in the health system and despite the constant increase in the number of doctors; accessibility to health care does not seem to have improved significantly. In fact, Canada places poorly in terms of wait times in emergency rooms. Of the 11 countries surveyed by the OECD, Canada comes in last with an average wait time of more than 4 hours.
Artificial Intelligence Can Automate Tasks and Reduce Operating Costs
Government officials are aware of the above issues. They know that it is necessary to modernize and automate the technological infrastructure of hospitals in order to solve the previously mentioned issues. They know that fax machines, pagers and paper agendas are obsolete tools that generate communication errors. They know that inefficient dispersion of information and the multiplicity of channels of communication involve procedures that waste precious time (and therefore money) for all the participants in the hospital. And most importantly, they know that ultimately, it is the patient who suffers the consequences of communication errors.
At this conference, Patrice Gilbert addressed the importance of combining artificial intelligence with hospital technologies in order to directly address one of the basic problems of health care. This problem absorbs a large part of public spending and has a major effect on access to health care. It is time management. Artificial intelligence provides a more efficient way to match physician schedules to patient appointment requests and to match medical appointment data with medical staff availability.
To take full advantage of artificial intelligence and optimize the communication processes, it is necessary to first computerize the management tools, because this is the only way to collect reliable data on the schedules of the service providers, as well as the appointment bookings of the patients.
Where to Start?
For nearly 10 years, PetalMD has been successful in improving access to health care in several Canadian hospitals through its technologies. During this time PetalMD has acquired a unique knowledge of the market that has enabled it to target the most important challenges in the health sector.
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