Embracing Healthcare AI to Transform Patient Experiences and Care Outcomes

Akhter Hemayoun Mubarki
Wed 27 Mar 2024
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It isn't news that healthcare across the globe is experiencing a massive shift towards consumerization. The patients' expectations greatly shape their behavior towards and satisfaction with healthcare systems, and falling short of these expectations can result in negative outcomes. As a result, healthcare organizations are fostering a patient-focused approach to attract patients, improve their health outcomes as well as bolster the growth and performance of these organizations.

The Middle East has always been a leader in embracing change, and now healthcare organizations in the region are undergoing a significant transformation toward enhancing patient experiences. This shift is accelerated by Artificial Intelligence (AI) to focus on delivering personalized care to patients. This shift aims to improve patient loyalty and enhance overall value over time. As organizations navigate this evolving landscape, they face a crucial question: How can we revolutionize the patient experience, and what role can AI play in enabling this transformation?

This article delves into the essence of the patient experience in the context of the Middle East and takes a deep dive into effective strategies to improve the patient experience.

Defining Patient Experience in the Middle East

The patient experience movement is pushing health systems worldwide to evolve. While methods may vary, one key principle remains the same:focusing on the patient. In a recent study, BCG interviewed approximately 2,000 patients in the Middle East to uncover their main concerns and expectations, shedding light on ways to create a more patient-centered healthcare sector.

When selecting a healthcare provider, patients have high expectations centered on key factors: optimal outcomes personalized to their needs, value-driven care, coverage within their health insurance plan, access to desired services and specialties, and a proficient medical team ensuring quality care standards. These elements are the minimum expected. Almost all healthcare providers in the Middle East already demonstrate excellence in these areas. The research also reveals a variety of "softer" elements that significantly influence the patient experience. These include the ease of navigating the entire patient journey including booking simplicity, appointment availability, travel convenience, and minimal wait times. Additionally, the environment of healthcare facilities, characterized by modern infrastructure, state-of-the-art equipment, and a focus on comfort and cleanliness, plays a vital role. Furthermore, the reputation of both the healthcare institution's brand and individual doctors serves as a crucial indicator of care quality, particularly in the current context where systematic measurement of patient-reported outcomes and transparency are limited.

In summary, there are four broad but crucial pillars that support the cornerstone of the patient experience in the Middle East:

  1. Accessibility and Equity:

Accessibility and equity are pivotal for ensuring every individual receives the care they need, regardless of their background or circumstances. In the Middle East, strides are being made to bridge gaps in accessibility, aiming to provide equal opportunities for all patients. The Healthcare Sector Transformation Program under Vision 2030 outlines in great detail the need for a comprehensive and effective healthcare system that prioritizes innovation, financial sustainability, and disease prevention while improving access to healthcare. By prioritizing equitable care, healthcare providers in the region are striving to create a patient experience that is inclusive, compassionate, and supportive of diverse needs.

  1. Affordability and Sustainability:

With healthcare costs rising on a global scale, the region is focusing on strategies to make care more affordable and accessible. Efforts are being made to implement cost-effective healthcare solutions while ensuring the sustainability of services for the long term. This includes exploring innovative financing models, promoting preventive care to reduce long-term costs, and fostering partnerships between the public and private sectors. A key move in this direction is the shift towards the adoption of value-based care to enhance value by improving outcomes and reducing costs, and building an integrated healthcare system where quality care is accessible to all, without financial strain.

  1. Education and Awareness:

As individuals become more informed about their health, they are empowered to make proactive decisions and actively participate in their care journey. Initiatives focused on healthcare literacy, disease prevention, and healthy lifestyle choices are gaining momentum, bridging the gap between patients and healthcare providers. Notably, ‘We the UAE 2031’ continues the path laid out by ‘UAE Vision 2021’, aim to expedite the nation’s progress in healthcare, education, and sustainability. This not only leads to better health outcomes for individuals but also cultivates a stronger, more resilient healthcare system that values patient engagement, well-being, and longevity at its core.

  1. Empowerment and Decision-Making:

By empowering individuals to take an active role in their health, they become partners in their care journey, rather than mere recipients. The region is witnessing a shift toward care models, where patients are encouraged to ask questions and actively participate in treatment decisions. Recently, the Dubai Health Authority held a workshop with health and technology partners focused on leveraging innovative digital technologies to deliver patient-centric and data-driven healthcare services This is only possible by having access to reliable healthcare information, transparent communication with healthcare providers, and the availability of robust tools and health applications.

Recent Evolution of Patient Experience

Healthcare regulators, providers, and insurers have been actively emphasizing the importance of patient experience in healthcare. The numerous initiatives aimed in this direction are a testament to their commitment.

In Qatar, the National Vision 2030 aims to establish a comprehensive, world-class integrated healthcare system. This system will deliver high-quality services through both public and private institutions, ensuring accessibility for the entire population. The goal is to provide effective and affordable healthcare, tailored to the diverse needs of men, women, and children.

The Patient Experience Measurement Program, launched by the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Saudi Arabia, is part of national transformation initiatives to enhance patient experience and achieve outstanding healthcare. Through tailored surveys for each visit, beneficiaries can measure their satisfaction with various health services at MOH facilities. The results of the survey published from time to time offer a multitude of insights to help shape the establishment of a national standard for patient experience levels and an assessment of the quality of services offered by MOH facilities and across GCC.

Not long ago, the Department of Health UAE introduced the Abu Dhabi Healthcare Quality Index in 2018 to ensure the highest standards of healthcare. Muashir, an evolved version of the Jawda program launched in 2014, offers a unique, comprehensive, and reliable quality framework. Muashir emphasizes sustainability, the effectiveness of care, transparency, accountability, and enhancement of the patient experience. The framework's development was driven by innovation, patient-centeredness, and provider engagement.

Leading healthcare providers in the region have embraced these initiatives to advance patient-centered care and demonstrated commendable efforts resulting in high-quality outcomes. Aster Clinics, a division of the prominent healthcare provider Aster DM Healthcare in the GCC, is acknowledged for its dedication to customer experience. Emphasizing the importance of customer experience, Dr Sherbaz Bichu, CEO, of Aster Hospitals and Clinics, UAE, Oman, and Bahrain said “Enhancing the experience of our patients and corporate clients is not just a goal; it's our standard”.

The transformative SHIFA project of Riyadh First Health Cluster is another great step in the direction of enhancing patient experience. According to Zaid Abdulaziz Alrafi, Executive Director of Client Experience at Riyadh First Health Cluster in Saudi Arabia, the path towards integrated care starts with a strategic perspective. “The Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia has been unwavering in its focus on integrated care as part of the healthcare transformational strategy, aligning it with Vision 2030. A key part of it is the patient-centered care model forming the bedrock of holistic patient care. This model encompasses all facets of a person’s health, including physical, mental, and social well-being. Its primary objective is to facilitate seamless coordination among healthcare providers and community services, ensuring the individual receives comprehensive and cohesive care,” he explains.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, a member of the M42 network, reaffirmed its commitment to providing world-class, multidisciplinary complex care utilizing cutting-edge technologies for the future. Highlighted as the "hospital of the future," they employ innovation and the latest medical advancements, technologies, and methodologies to enhance patient outcomes. This includes optimizing and targeting treatments, minimizing adverse effects, and elevating the overall patient experience.

Amid these innovative initiatives and strategic plans, a resounding theme emerges—the widespread integration of AI-enabled digital healthcare technologies. This pivotal shift is crafted to enhance patient engagement, elevate experiences, and ultimately, optimize healthcare outcomes. The infusion of AI empowers healthcare providers to deliver personalized, efficient, and proactive care, tailored precisely to individual needs. As the landscape of healthcare evolves, this technological evolution stands as a beacon, guiding the industry toward a future where patient well-being takes center stage.

AI Powers the Patient Experience Wave

In 2022, the emergence of generative AI technologies sent shockwaves across industries. The integration of AI into healthcare sparked both excitement and apprehension. On the positive side, the swift adoption of AI within healthcare operations led to a substantial enhancement in the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare service delivery. These early use cases include:-

  • Convenient Appointment Scheduling
  • Chatbot and Telemedicine
  • Omni-channel Engagement
  • Streamlined Processes and Operations
  • Workflow Automation
  • Seamless Patient-Physician Interactions

Use cases for AI in healthcare operations are, being adopted at a very fast pace. This begs the next question: What other ways can AI help to transform healthcare?

The possibilities are many. Let’s focus on some that could really transform healthcare with the application of AI.

  1. Preventive Care

With a growing emphasis on proactive health measures to prevent diseases before they occur, governments and healthcare providers are investing in initiatives such as screenings, vaccinations, and health education campaigns to promote early detection and intervention. The right AI-enabled technologies can provide robust insights into populations and related risks, thereby enabling proactive intervention and course correction. This will heavily help in reducing the burden of chronic diseases and improve overall population health.

  1. Precision Medicine

Precision medicine includes customizing treatments according to a person's genetics, environment, and lifestyle. It might also advance preventive care by identifying individuals at high risk of certain diseases early on, allowing for timely intervention. The inclusion of AI in this area will allow healthcare providers to deliver targeted therapies that are more effective and have fewer side effects while reducing healthcare costs, and enhancing the overall quality of care for the population.

  1. Digital Twins

Digital twins are emerging as a groundbreaking technology in the Middle East, offering virtual replicas of physical assets, processes, and even individuals. This innovative AI-driven approach allows for real-time monitoring, analysis, and simulation of healthcare scenarios, leading to more precise diagnoses and treatment plans.

  1. Metaverse

A virtual environment where patients and healthcare providers can interact and collaborate in new ways holds promise. This immersive technology can allow virtual consultations, medical training simulations, and even remote surgeries. From telemedicine to virtual reality therapies, the metaverse is poised to transform the healthcare landscape, providing innovative solutions for better health outcomes and patient experiences.

Key Factors that Enhance Patient Experience

It's undeniable that patient-focused healthcare models are the future, with AI being the key facilitator. However, it's easy to get swept up in the excitement of healthcare AI. t As we navigate AI in healthcare, we must enable this transformation with the necessary foundation. Secure, robust, and unified healthcare data requires a unified, intelligent data platform and a cohesive patient and provider experience requires a customer relationship management platform. The combination of these platforms will ensure the transformation and the journey stays on track.

Every healthcare transformation, big or small, has high-quality healthcare data at its core. A healthcare data platform is not only the technology to securely unify healthcare datafrom all sources such as EHRs, HIEs, and others across the care continuum, but it is also the intelligent engine that transforms this data into valuable information and actionable insights. This is critical for better-understanding patients, implementing patient-focused care models, and experiencing seamless decision-making. Read more about why healthcare organizations need a powerful Unified Healthcare Data Management Platform here.

A healthcare customer relationship management solution (CRM) is not an add-on, it is a necessity. Traditional CRMs and patient engagement tools have made an impact, but there is still untapped potential in utilizing high-quality healthcare data and context that needs to be addressed before enhancing experiences and outcomes. What’s needed now is a robust healthcare experience platform that can reinvent experiences from consultation to treatment and everything in between.

Transform Experiences with Innovaccer

Read key takeaways discussed during our recent webinar on this subject. If you're eager for more, don't miss the opportunity to watch the webinar to gain expert insights from our healthcare industry leaders in the Middle East.

Innovaccer has always been dedicated to enabling healthcare organizations to transform patient care, enhance experiences, improve population health, and foster improved engagement with consumers.As a result, we have introduced Sara, unique AI-driven suite of healthcare solutions that isdesigned to meet the specific safety, precision, security, compliance, and scalability needs of healthcare IT, and can empower executives, clinicians, care coordinators, and contact center representatives to deliver crucial data and outcomes at the point of care needed.

Ask For An Innovaccer Demo

To discuss the various approaches to enhance patient experiences, and understand how Sara can enable you to drive outcomes, book a personalized demo now!


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