Don’t have the time or the means to drive to your nearest healthcare provider’s office for an appointment? Are you sick but afraid to go to a physical doctor’s office and spread your germs? Chances are, you can still be seen and have your health concerns addressed from afar, thanks to the rising normalcy of telehealth practices.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are critical components driving digital transformation in healthcare by helping federal agencies better serve their constituents both near and far—and in ways that were not previously capable. Virtual health appointments might seem like a common concept to us in 2021, but a decade ago, they would have seemed taboo (especially in the federal healthcare sector). Telemedicine and telehealth refer to a wide variety of remote healthcare practices from diagnostics, treatment and prescription to doctor visits and consultations, and they show no sign of slowing down in the future.
It’s no secret that government health agencies are increasingly communicating with their patients via video applications, email, online portals and phone, versus purely in-person health meetings. However, the introduction and transition to increased telehealth practices did not emerge overnight. Due largely to the factors discussed below, this shift in federal healthcare standards has been brewing for quite some time.
A more connected and automated world
Think about how prominent smart phones are today, and how just about everything around us is reliant on some type of digital device or computerized backbone. In this constantly “plugged-in” reality, people rely more on cloud-based applications, smartphones, computers, IoT devices and Bluetooth-enabled gadgets than ever before. This digital way of life has caused people to become comfortable with and accustomed to accomplishing everyday tasks virtually. Other, non-healthcare-related examples of electronic norms in our lives include online shopping, ridesharing apps for transportation, your smart watch that stays connected to your phone, telework, and much more.
The pandemic has changed how we do business, “go to” work, interact with people, and so much more. COVID-19 played a huge role in the past year’s rapid increase of telehealth appointments, due to health concerns of the virus spreading and populations being quarantined in their homes for months on end. For the first time, telehealth wasn’t just an option for those who preferred it, but instead a requirement for most people.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning technology advancements
New algorithm-driven diagnostic tools enable federal healthcare providers to work with their patients to provide accurate diagnoses, effective treatments and long-term care—all from afar. Artificial intelligence and ML enable federal and local healthcare officials to analyze patient data quicker and provide more effective diagnostics, since machines can analyze, track and flag data sets far more swiftly and accurately than humans alone. Artificial intelligence utilizes patterns in patient symptoms and test results, and compares those in real time across databases to identify risk factors and suggest possible diagnoses that might not have been detectable or possible without the help of AI. Federal mobile care and telehealth practices use AI to uncover the best mix of human and machine communication (like automated chatbots) to better understand how patients are feeling and how their bodies are working in real time between visits, leading to more productive telehealth care and treatment.
The increase in live, virtual telehealth sessions did not come without its share of unique challenges that federal healthcare agencies had not accounted for before such an impactful event like COVID-19. For example, many doctors’ offices and clinics experienced administrative and back-office nightmares as their staff tried to keep up with the influx of lab results, patient documentation and records. And for doctors, being able to access lab results and other electronic health record (EHR) data while on telehealth appointments with patients proved tricky since different systems needed to integrate with the virtual telehealth platforms. The solution was found in AI-driven platforms and configuration tools that helped automate and integrate these virtual processes. Since the key ingredient to AI and ML is feeding applications large quantities of data, AI-driven healthcare tools restructured the data streaming processes from EHR systems across different healthcare platforms in real time. Voice recognition processing tools also helped reduce administrative time after virtual appointments since visit transactions and notes can be recorded in real time, transcribed, and electronically stored into EHR systems.
Artificial intelligence-powered applications such as autonomous surgical robots, virtual nursing assistants, automated image diagnosis and dosage error reduction are just some of the ways AI is critically advancing the technological capabilities in the health sector. As federal healthcare providers continue to move toward an increasingly common virtual care climate, the use of AI in telehealth will continue to drive the efficacy and longevity of this practice. Machine learning and AI help doctors make real-time, data-driven decisions that ultimately lead to better patient experiences and improved health outcomes.
Work with a trusted partner to accelerate your AI journey
Whether creating quality client experiences, delivering better patient outcomes or streamlining the supply chain, federal agencies need infrastructure in place that can deliver AI-powered insights. Artificial intelligence is already revolutionizing the face of federal healthcare, and it will only continue to gain traction in the future. However, we understand that there are barriers to adopting this technology. Whether you are facing budget constraints, doubts around ethical and biased use of data and AI, or a data management system and infrastructure that’s not quite ready to transition, Sirius Federal can help.
As a technology solutions provider that works hand-in-hand with NVIDIA to provide agencies innovative IT solutions and services, we understand the technology needs of the federal government. Reach out to our team of certified experts today to start building your agency’s AI-driven infrastructure.
About the Author: Matthew Warner
Matthew Warner is a solutions architect for Sirius Federal