AI in healthcare: less paperwork, more time for patients

Let’s peek behind the “AI will transform everything” story and look at one industry where AI is already solving a lot of problems: healthcare. It’s estimated that there is a global shortfall of 4.3 million doctors and nurses. So technology that improves the productivity of medical practitioners allows them to provide more medical care. And effectively reduces the shortfall in caregivers.

One of the big headwinds to doctors seeing more patients is all of the time they spend on paperwork. Medical records, regulatory compliance, that sort of thing. One study by the American Medical Association (AMA) found that U.S. doctors spend 37% of their office time doing paperwork. It’s a serious headwind to delivering top-notch patient care. 

Let’s look at what could happen if doctors offload their paperwork to AI. A typical physician works 50 hours per week, and spends 34.1 hours with patients and 22 minutes per patient. Given AMA’s finding, paperwork accounts for 37% of the 15.9 remaining office hours, which translates to 5.9 hours per week. If AI freed up those 5.9 hours, a doctor could see 16 additional patients per week or 802 per 50-week work year. Multiply that across the entire healthcare system and you have a lot of happy patients and doctors. 

A very real-world, feasible use of AI that doesn’t involve the invention of robot doctors or other headline-grabbing fictions.

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