Conversation Intelligence in Hospitals: Enhancing Care & Patient Experience

While there are a vast array of AI technologies impacting hospitals and medicine in general, from AI consultations and diagnoses to machine-calculated precision medicine, one of the most overlooked yet easily deployable is Conversation Intelligence. Conversation Intelligence is a type of artificial intelligence that enables computers to process, understand and generate human language. It uses natural language processing to draw deep understanding from interactions across phone calls, emails or online chats.

It is currently being applied throughout the business and public sector landscape to enhance the insights we get from the main conduit of information for any successful organisation – conversations. The most cutting-edge systems can summarise meetings, identify actions, discern sentiment, and enable the flagging of key moments and insights in conversations to inform better decision-making. This solution has the potential to dramatically improve communications, operations, care and efficiency within healthcare.

Connecting hospitals to improve the patient experience

Of all organisations, hospitals are one of the most reliant on conversations as integral to how they function. Whether these are operational or clinical interactions, a vital amount of hospital communication occurs verbally. Traditionally, this has presented a major challenge in connecting hospitals, as the information from these conversations could only be captured by incomplete manual notes or hard to access audio files. With overloaded staff and stressed patients, key details from conversations can fall through the cracks and contribute to confusion over details, poor patient experience, disputes, and lost productivity.

However, the advance of Conversation Intelligence technology is beginning to reshape what is possible in terms of communications within healthcare organisations. Integrated into hospital communication systems, these solutions can help ensure that conversation details are accurately and comprehensively captured and available as a core part of a hospital’s information systems.

These changes can lead to improved patient experience in many ways. Accurate call transcripts can mitigate the issues of information loss from advising patients over the phone, minimise communication errors and prevent disputes. AI-generated summaries linked back to accessible media can form part of a more complete patient case record, informing and improving future advice.

Administrators can be alerted when calls contain moments of negative sentiment and complaints detected by AI, ensuring these receive proper attention and resolution. And, with key moments flagged, healthcare organisations can save time as critical data is brought to them and processed into insights for immediate action, instead of having to proactively search and sift through this data.

Applied correctly, Conversation Intelligence can create the capability for an always up-to-date patient synopsis from all their communications, accessible to any relevant hospital staff member. This could dramatically improve continuity of care and the speed of patient consultations and diagnoses.

Protecting and upskilling staff 

The efficiency enabled by conversational intelligence also holds great potential for improving staff skills and experience. Currently, switchboard operators often route calls to the wrong department due to overload or limited context about a patient issue. This frustrates patients, and at times can result in verbal abuse of staff. Hospitals know this is a problem, but they often do not have sufficient data to inform a solution.

With aggregated cross-departmental Conversation Intelligence, hospitals can highlight which departments are receiving complaints outside their domain, providing administrators with the data they require to inform policies and training to improve operators’ ability to route calls correctly, as well as detect, flag and help prevent verbal abuse.

Likewise, Conversation Intelligence could detect a rise in complaints about wait times in a certain unit or department, prompting administrators to investigate or reallocate resources to resolve a bottleneck. By processing conversations faster than human workers, AI enables continuous improvement through data analytics.   

For nurses, Conversation Intelligence could address one of their biggest frustrations – excessive administrative work. Nurses can end up spending hours of their shift doing paperwork instead of caring for patients. By automatically generating notes and clinical details from conversations, nurses could gain back precious time to focus on patient care. Similarly, doctors lose significant productivity to administrative tasks, which Conversation Intelligence could optimise through automated documentation and prioritisation.

Transforming healthcare with AI

Verbal interactions between patients and staff will always be at the heart of healthcare, and the insights generated through Conversation Intelligence have the potential to help reduce risk, enhance care quality, improve employee morale, and boost patient satisfaction. With healthcare worker burnout drastically high, any technology that can help automate and make administrative workloads more efficient promises significant benefits for the industry. Hospitals are complex information ecosystems that rely on fast and accurate communication. AI that can enhance the information drawn from conversations will offer transformative benefits across hospital operations, staff and patients for the future.

Author: Dr Iain McCowan, Director of AI at Dubber


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