6 Ways Your Large Practice Can Begin Integrating AI Technology to Drive Efficiency

April 18, 2024


Since the pandemic, the healthcare industry has seen many changes to the everyday tools and technology used within hospitals, labs, clinics, and doctor’s offices. A digital transformation has begun, with artificial intelligence (AI) emerging as a powerful tool to drive efficiency and improve patient outcomes. And enterprise-scale healthcare organizations stand to benefit significantly from leveraging these emerging AI technologies. In the recent Physician Sentiment Survey, a report fielded by athenahealth of 1,000 practicing physicians in the U.S., 39% of physicians said they believe AI has the power to reduce administrative burdens and streamline tasks.1 By embracing and seeking to integrate this new technology, these organizations have potential to streamline processes, optimize resource allocation, reduce burnout, and enhance decision-making, ultimately leading to cost savings and improved quality of care.

To highlight the critical results of this research, we're examining the top use cases for AI technology that physicians believe they can benefit most from. Here are six potential opportunities to consider as your healthcare organization continues to leverage AI in your day-to-day workflow. Let’s dive in.

1. Clinical decision support and diagnostics

AI-powered decision support systems can assist healthcare professionals in making more accurate diagnoses and treatment recommendations. 42% of physicians surveyed said that a leading potential benefit of AI is identifying patterns and anomalies in patient data that a physician might miss. Machine learning algorithms can analyze vast amounts of raw patient data, medical literature, and clinical guidelines to identify patterns and provide evidence-based suggestions.2 This has the potential to not only improve diagnostic accuracy, but also reduce the risk of human error and may help lead to better patient outcomes and potentially lower healthcare costs associated with misdiagnoses or ineffective treatments.

2. Intelligent workflow automation

Enterprise healthcare organizations often struggle with inefficient workflows and administrative burdens, which can lead to delays, errors, and increased costs. Emerging technology like AI may help streamline these processes by automating repetitive tasks, such as appointment scheduling, medical coding, and data entry. Robotic process automation (RPA) and natural language processing (NLP) technologies can be employed to handle these tasks more efficiently, freeing up valuable time for healthcare professionals to focus on patient care.

3. Resource optimization

The effective allocation of resources, including staff, equipment, and supplies, is crucial for healthcare organizations to operate efficiently and provide timely care. In fact, 35% of physicians surveyed listed increased healthcare efficiencies as a key benefit of AI.3 New AI technology has the power to assist in optimizing resource utilization by analyzing historical data, forecasting demand, and identifying potential bottlenecks or underutilized areas. Predictive analytics can help organizations anticipate staffing needs, manage inventory levels, and optimize facility layouts, which may lead to cost savings in the long run.

4. Population health management

AI can also play a pivotal role in population health management by analyzing large datasets to identify risk factors, predict disease trends, and develop targeted interventions.4 Some machine learning models are beginning to stratify patient populations based on health risks, enabling healthcare organizations to design personalized care plans and allocate resources more effectively. Additionally, AI-powered remote monitoring and virtual care solutions can facilitate preventive care and chronic disease management, reducing the burden on healthcare facilities and improving overall population health.

5. Medical imaging and radiology

AI-powered image analysis and computer vision technologies can start to assist radiologists in interpreting medical images more accurately and efficiently. 34% of physicians surveyed said that a leading potential benefit of AI is improved accuracy of patient diagnoses.5 Machine learning algorithms can help detect subtle patterns and anomalies in images, aiding in the early detection of diseases and reducing the risk of missed diagnoses. Additionally, AI can potentially help streamline workflows in radiology departments by automating tasks such as image preprocessing, prioritization, and reporting.

6. Voice-powered documentation solutions

Many healthcare organizations say time spent documenting patient encounters is a huge challenge for their organization. Our research shows that physicians spend over 15 hours per week outside of normal business hours on paperwork and administrative tasks.6 The amount of time spent taking notes can be a huge burden, and it subtracts time that would otherwise be spent connecting directly with patients and fostering relationships.

Voice-to-text dictation is quickly becoming a highly-used service among healthcare organizations looking to cut down on documentation time. Using voice powered services, you can help reduce documentation time normally spent on clinician notetaking and medical history, boost productivity, and create new efficiencies during patient encounters. Some intuitive services can actually retrieve clinical information and allow you to complete meaningful clinical tasks hands-free, from either your desktop or mobile device. By integrating voice dictation services into your day-to-day, you can help your organization drive increased efficiency during encounters with patients, leaving extra time in the day for more high demand tasks.

Enterprise-scale healthcare organizations that can integrate this new AI technology to enhance and strengthen existing tools and workflows will be well-positioned to drive efficiencies, improve patient outcomes, and stay competitive in an increasingly digital healthcare landscape. By looking to new technology like AI and automation to help reduce administrative burdens and shorten documentation times, physicians in large practices can get time back in their day to focus on patient care and attracting new patients. Start by evaluating where your business is and what goals are most important. In the future, your organization should look for ways to tackle the low-hanging fruit that yields the most impact: start automating existing processes in your day-to-day, such as notetaking and documentation, using AI-powered tools like voice dictation.

Want to learn more? Try these related topics:

As clinician burnout rises, how can technology help?

Leveraging HIT solutions so your healthcare organization can achieve growth

Your patients want more time with you, and AI can help

1-6. 2023 Physician Sentiment Survey, commissioned by athenahealth and fielded by Harris Poll, Jan 2024