Medtrade Spring preview: AI can be empowering

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Friday, February 21, 2020

LAS VEGAS - If you think the HME industry isn't ready for artificial intelligence, guess again, says Dan Fox, vice president of emerging markets at Smart Action.

HME News spoke to Fox, who is co-hosting the Medtrade session, “Beyond the Buzz: AI in DME” with Miriam Lieber, about adaptation and how AI can benefit everyone involved.

HME News: Are patients receptive to artificial intelligence?

Dan Fox: We found that older demographics may be even more likely to give an automated system a chance, whereas a millennial may say, "I already tried this on Google; I couldn't get my answer; I need to talk to a person.” Then there are people who may have certain disabilities and accessibility challenges that are willing to work with an artificial intelligence system. 

HME: What are some of the benefits of automation through AI?

Fox: The primary benefit is really patient experience. Getting a quick answer and being able to do something without a live agent is what people are moving toward when we look at processes like resells or inquiries. We’re also making a lot of headway in the collection space, because the fact is, people do not want to talk to a person if they have an overdue bill. That’s very embarrassing for a lot of people and getting a gentle reminder from a system is a better experience than a live agent.  

HME: What about saving money? 

Fox: The average DME/HME call starts at $5 to have a live agent handle it, but if all they want is a refill, you’re doing it for cents with an automated system. And you can reduce call volume and handling time associated with call centers, so the productivity gains are significant. 

HME: Where is AI going?

Fox: Text messaging is going to be a huge channel. Also, what if you could talk to your Alexa or your Google Assistant in your house and say, “Hey Alexa, I need to refill this prescription,” or “I need to place an order.” So when talking about accessibility, that’s huge for a lot of customers.