The discussion about artificial intelligence (AI) generally revolves around the flashy and “sexy” new technologies that sometimes feel like they’re ripped straight from the pages of a great sci-fi novel. Things like robotics, functional motion-tracking, and functional outcome predictors usually headline the conversation. And while these new innovations certainly do have the potential to produce groundbreaking outcomes, they also come with some steep barriers to entry. They’re generally incredibly expensive, not always widely available, or so complex and “out-there” that securing buy-in from your team is a steep challenge.
But terms like AI, predictive analytics, and machine learning don’t have to feel so out of reach. Just because you may not be a massive research institute or the largest rehab therapy practice in the country with several million in the R&D budget, doesn’t mean you can’t realize the value of AI. Even rehab therapy operations with just a few therapists have opportunities to avoid the steep barriers to entry and embrace AI opportunities that will produce immediate, meaningful, and lasting results that everyone involved can get excited about.
In this article, we want to reframe the discussion about AI in physical or occupational therapy and put more of a focus on the lesser-discussed and more functional approaches to the technology.
Operational vs. Clinical AI
One of the chief reasons that AI in healthcare can seem so intimidating is that the more complex clinical AI solutions tend to overshadow the operational analytics solutions. When you look at something like, say, a predictive model to estimate functional outcomes, securing the buy-in from key stakeholders can be challenging. To understand the technology and its value, you need to understand the clinical treatment side of things, understand the statistical and programming side of the technology, and find a way to paint a clear ROI picture that may not be that clear.
When you look at operational AI solutions, though, the minimum required knowledge to understand and perceive the value of the solution is generally much lower. There’s less of a need to understand specific clinical interventions, the data is often driven by sources we’re more accustomed to, and the ROI calculations are often simpler and clearer.
Scheduling: A Prime Example
To further illustrate this point, let’s look at a real-world example of the value possible from operational AI solutions in rehab therapy. Specifically, we want to look at the area of scheduling. Any rehab therapist, scheduler, or practice owner knows without even doing a single calculation that the money lost from missed or canceled appointments is huge.
But what if you had a way to know which patients were more likely to cancel or miss an upcoming appointment? If you had this knowledge, you could intervene by sending additional reminders, having your front-office staff actually call certain patients to remind them, or even double-book patients with a higher risk of missing their appointment. All of these interventions would mean fuller schedules, fewer gaps of therapist downtime, and a significantly stronger bottom line.
This is an example of an operational AI solution that actually exists. Net Health has built an easy-to-use solution that directly integrates into existing EMRs and scheduling programs to help identify patients likely to cancel or miss an upcoming appointment. The software looks at things like socioeconomic factors, past attendance, and even factors like the weather to predict with a high degree of confidence where revenue-saving implementations can be made in real-time.
It’s simple to see how a solution like this is easy to understand and easy to validate the ROI implications without the need for a lot of complex calculations and estimations.
The Next Step
If you’re reading this and you used to think AI was something far out there that your practice wouldn’t be able to benefit from for a long time but now you’re excited to look into it further, great! It’s really something that practices of all shapes and sizes should be looking into as there are solutions that don’t require unreasonable commitments. If you’re ready to learn more about Net Health’s scheduling solution we discussed or any of the team’s other analytics and AI solutions, we’d encourage you to reach out today to schedule a free demo!
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