Virtual Medical Assistants: A Boon to the ACA Concept?
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- As Americans are watching the Obama Administration's foray into healthcare technology fail abysmally, it is worth noting that there are companies in this field that are successful.
One is Next IT, a privately held, Spokane, Wash., hi-tech company, which is a leader in intelligent virtual assistants. It is adapting its 'Alme" platform for the healthcare field. Kathleen Sebelius should have considered it.
The Alme program is an intelligent virtual assistant (IVA) that helps people interact vocally and obtain assistance from a company, a provider or a vendor for whatever their needs are.
For example, Aetna, the giant health insurer, used its Alme IVA for registration on its website. It provided immediate help to new members who were first time visitors. Called "Ann," it is available to members 24/7. Patients are able to "type in their questions, using their own natural language and get the information they need.
Aetna dubbed Ann a success. During the fifth month after implementation there was a 29% reduction in member-service technical help desk calls. The following year after its introduction, Aetna expanded Ann's use to encompass cost-of-service estimates. This year Aetna continued to add to Ann's responsibilities. Now members locate an in-network provider to perform needed services and compare costs by facility or physician.
Ann now answers nearly 50,000 questions per day and nearly 1.5 million questions per month. Aetna has reduced operating expenses without an impact on the quality of service to its members said the company.
According to the company, "Alme for Healthcare is a conversational software solution that's extending healthcare professionals' ability to deliver personalized interactions everyday." The company claims that this will allow harried doctors to provide more conscientious medical services. It provides "adherence-boosting coaching for those facing chronic illnesses." It also "helps organizations guide members through complex forms and processes."
"Alme is customized by the healthcare businesses themselves (whether that's a payer, provider, specialty pharmacy or pharmaceutical company) so, Alme would be the backbone and platform behind many, new telemedicine applications as opposed to interacting with external telemedicine applications," explained Victor Morrison, senior vice president of health markets for Next IT.
Alme is patient-friendly too. It is geared toward making physician's assistants and other healthcare professionals better at their jobs. It will permit them to get more real-time information about patients.
"Most importantly, however, Alme will give patients a more accessible and useful way to get important medical information and reminders remotely, without having to call and wait to speak with a human each time," said Morrison. "It's also worth noting that Alme helps healthcare businesses control costs considerably so, implementing a mobile, tablet or web-based virtual health assistant cuts down on healthcare costs for patients over the long-term."