The AI-powered technology is making life easier for patients’ families and reducing headaches for a health system serving young patients with complex needs.
Parents bringing their children to Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare need as few hassles as possible.
Gillette Children’s, based in St. Paul, Minn., offers specialized care to children with disabilities, those who suffered traumatic injuries, and patients with complex conditions such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida and muscular dystrophy.
Tim Getsay, executive vice president of performance and integration at Gillette Children’s, said the organization was looking to make the experience easier for families.
Gillette Children’s teamed with Notable, a healthcare technology firm, to automate some of their services for patients, such as scheduling appointments and handling other administrative tasks. Patients get texts or emails reminding them of appointments.
Getsay tells Chief Healthcare Executive® that the organization is very happy with the results.
“It’s far exceeded our expectations, actually, which very rarely happens when you deploy a software product,” Getsay says.
Patient satisfaction rates with the Notable technology have hit 99%, he says.
“I've never seen that, in my experience, with software,” Getsay says. Patients have a high response rate to notifications as well, he says.
Notable’s automation solutions are being utilized in over 3,000 providers across the country, and Intermountain Health and the Medical University of South Carolina are among the firm’s clients.
Pranay Kapadia, CEO and co-founder of Notable, says the company’s artificial intelligence powers its automation platform, “Patient AI”, improving accessibility for patients and reducing headaches for health systems struggling to retain workers. More hospitals are turning to automation because they can’t recruit or keep workers to handle those administrative functions.
“We truly believe we're at this moment in time where there's an inflection with AI, that actually allows us to tackle this workforce shortage in a way that has never been possible before,” Kapadia says.
(See part of our conversation with Tim Getsay of Gillette Children's in this video. The story continues below.)
Since Gillette Children’s serves young people with complex needs, the health system has a different relationship with patients and their families.
As Getsay says, Gillette’s relationships aren’t transactional.
“Our experiences with our families are not episodic,” he says. “They are relationships that are developed sometimes over a lifetime.”
With that in mind, Getsay says Gillette Children’s was looking at automation solutions that were aimed at reducing stress, even more than reducing costs.
“A lot of times automation begins with, we need to save money or it's a cost-saving effort to reduce resources on our end,” Getsay says. “But we didn't really approach it like that when we were looking for our partner. We really approached it like, we want to do something that enhances the experience for our families.”
Families are adopting the technology and responding to automated texts and messages at a high rate. Getsay says gearing technology so that families can take care of handling appointments on their phones, as opposed to signing into a portal, has been a big part of the high adoption and satisfaction.
“It's intelligent enough in the background that once you get your notification on your phone, then you can just do everything right there and be done in just less than a minute in some cases,” Getsay says. “Something easy like registration, you can just be walking, and in a block's time … you're done with all of your registration needs. So families love that.”
Notable’s “Patient AI” platform is studying when patients engage with Gillette’s system and reaches out to patients at the most opportune times with reminders for appointments or other needs. At Gillette, many are most likely to pick up the phone between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., Kapadia says.
“Patient AI automatically changes when to notify patients and how to actually notify patients,” he says.
The platform can also ask patients if the need assistance. A patient who has missed two appointment can get a message asking if a ride-share service is needed, Kapadia says.
Kapadia recalls feedback from the parent of a patient who was thankful that it was easy to get the right care.
“That is setting the bar for the industry that is putting a parent's mind at ease for things that they shouldn't have to worry about,” Kapadia says. “The problem with healthcare, really at a human level, in the way that the industry works today is it's those moments of friction … that add to the anxiety when I'm already sick or in need of care.”
Beyond reducing stress for patients and families, Getsay says the improved experience relates to better patient care. Patients and families are more likely to stick with treatments if they don’t have hassles in getting appointments, he says. Even for those with very serious conditions, families and patients will defer care if the experience is too difficult, Getsay says.
“I do think this is not just about automation,” Getsay says. “It's about the population's health.
“Any way we can get people more engaged and have the experience better, they're going to get it more often,” he adds. “And they're going to get it more proactively, and get rid of that stigma of people not wanting to go to the doctor or being afraid to go to the doctor. If you can lower that barrier, then it's going to benefit everyone.”
Reduced stress on staff
Gillette Children’s staff are dealing with fewer headaches, as more calls are being handled by automation, Getsay says. In a recent walk through the waiting room, he says staff didn’t have patients waiting in line.
“They like not seeing lines, you know, and not making people wait, because that’s not fun,” Getsay says.
With the ease in scheduling and registration, when families do need help, “it's a much more pleasant experience.”
Getsay says the automation pays dividends in saving time for patients and staff. The patients and families can do some tasks themselves, and have a better experience.
“It frees up time for us to do more high value things for the patients,” Getsay says. “So overall, they're getting the benefit of the digital automation, and the big benefit that the human can offer in the interaction when they need that special treatment.”
Kapadia says Notable’s goal is for its automation services to supplement the personal touch from health systems.
“We want to have personalized patient experiences that are just beautiful and as delightful as can be during times of strife in healthcare, but also that automate the work such that you can actually see valuable ROI in the health system,” Kapadia says.
Getsay sees the potential for reduced staffing costs by automating some tasks. He also says higher patient satisfaction could end up being a useful negotiating point with payers down the road.
Health systems are turning to automation solutions out of necessity, Kapadia says. They can’t find people to fill some administrative jobs. And if nurses or nurse practitioners are calling a patient just to get clinical information, Kapadia says, “It's an absurd use of resources. We're not practicing at the top of our license.”
Gillette Children’s is showing that automation technology can work with even the most complex patients, making it viable for other populations, Getsay says.
“It's not just about saving money or anything like that,” Getsay says. “For us. It's about improving the care for the patients.”