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Healthcare Marketing Magazine: The Future of Healthcare

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 “Alexa, how will AI affect Healthcare?”

         A mere five years ago few would predict that 24 million homes would feature an Artificially Intelligent (AI) voice-activated assistant in the form of a single speaker.  With technology moving at such a fast pace, it’s no surprise that the advancements in AI have left hardly any industry untouched, including the healthcare industry.

         With society’s collective embracing of such technology in their lives and homes, people show similar enthusiasm for what it could mean for their experiences as a patient.  According to a survey done by Northstar Research Partners, in partnership with ARM, 61 percent of the 4000 participants polled across the globe said they see the world becoming a “better place” because of AI, while 47 percent said they would opt to see an AI doctor.

         However, these findings are not to be interpreted as AI replacing healthcare professionals entirely. Instead, AI will assist them in their work. According to Accenture, virtual assistants are predicted to save doctors 17 percent of their time and 51 percent of registered nurses' time with administrative-related tasks and unnecessary visits. Accenture goes on to state that robot-assisted surgeries result in a 21 percent reduction of length of stay, an advantage for both patient and providers alike.

Patient-Centricity is Key

         CEO and co-founder of Ada Health Daniel Nathrath told Dr. Bertalan Mesko, PhD of Medical Futurist that such AI developments will not replace doctors, but instead help to save them time and provide more time for patient care and disease prevention. Ada Health, which has already had more than 1.5 million users worldwide, offers a conversational approach to telemedicine using a sophisticated AI engine and curated medical-knowledge base to assist in the diagnostic, preventative and proactive care for patients all over the world. For countries with privatized care where many patients pay out-of-pocket, Nathrath says Ada helps patients determine whether or not a visit to the doctor is necessary, while for countries with more rural, less-developed markets such as India or Africa, Ada offers more conclusive assessments than available than a local doctor. But Ada’s offering of a more convenient, conclusive assessment isn’t the only thing patients are drawn to — but to its patient-centric approach, as well.

Me, Myself, & I, the Patient

         From monogramed bags to Nutella jars printed with your name, it’s no secret that people prefer personalized experiences, patients included. And not only in their treatment, but their care, too. In fact, thanks to AI, patients will soon have fast and easy access to medical information in the future, while, according to a report from Deloitte, trackers and wearables will make routine checkups obsolete. The report goes on to predict the provision of healthcare as we have come to know it to be completely unrecognizable by the year 2065. Meanwhile, Forbes & Sullivan’s Transformational Health program reports that by 2025, AI will be used in 90 percent of the U.S., 60 percent of the global hospitals and insurance companies, and will deliver easily accessible, cheap, quality care to 70 percent of patients.

More data means better marketing

         With data and AI’s revolutionizing of the healthcare market comes the expectation of more precise marketing. As AI products and brands learn more about the patient, the opportunity emerges that the brand caters to each consumers specific need. It could be as simple as skin care brand creating an app consumers can use to determine which cream best suits their skin’s need, or as complex as better prostheses through machine-learning algorithms. In an exclusive interview with Medical Futurist, John Hopkins biomedical engineering master's candidate and upper-limb amputee György Lévay explained how AI helps more than humanly possible in engineering prostheses,

“These algorithms are capable of finding nuanced patterns in data that humans cannot. These capabilities are currently utilized through pattern recognition control, which reads data from an array of electrodes attached to the skin surface.”

The Future is Now

         With such care and product innovations made available by AI, brands, and in turn marketers, have the unique chance to create genuine connections with consumers with promising results. Through such relationships, loyalty is established and all stake holders benefit.

         In a recent speech to the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame, Jessica Echterling, Account Director at TBWA\Chiat\Day, a sister agency to TBWA\WorldHealth, emphasized the importance of breaking away from the traditional approaches to healthcare advertising in the wake of such innovations and technological advances. “You have an audience that is actively looking to have a conversation… It’s a requirement [to include] ‘Talk to your doctor,’ right? Well, people these days actually do!” The takeaway for medical marketers now and in the future? Someday soon people will actually talk to their AI-healthcare assistants, too – and we can shape how exactly they do just that.

This article was originally written for Germany's top-industry magazine 'Healthcare Marketing' & published in German in print for the Summer of 2018.
Anna A.