As we venture further into the AI-powered era of healthcare, it is crucial to remember that person-to-person connections must remain at the core of patient care.
Our CEO and Co-Founder, Sebastian Seiguer, recently addressed this topic at the Texas Association of Health Plans (TAHP) Medical + Pharmacy Directors Forum. He focused on medication adherence and the significance of maintaining genuine connections in healthcare.
Here are three key takeaways from his talk:
AI-focused technologies have struggled to accompany patients through the complexities of medical care
Seiguer stressed that the concept of accompaniment in patient care is a challenge for AI because it involves genuine human connection to drive to completion of a task, as illustrated by this Paul Farmer quote:
“To accompany someone is to go somewhere with him or her, to break bread together, to be present on a journey with a beginning and an end… Accompaniment is much more often about sticking with a task until it's deemed completed by the person or people being accompanied.”
AI can provide recommendations in patient care but struggles to provide true accompaniment without human connection. This was demonstrated through an exercise where a real Scene care team response to a patient was compared to an AI-generated response. In reply to a medication check-in video where a patient, Gina, shared personal struggles, the presented Chat GPT response fell flat. In contrast, the reply from Gina's Scene health coach showed empathy and genuine interest in her life, fostering a strong bond and trust.
Seiguer outlined how Scene’s video-enabled Directly Observed Therapy (video DOT) approach makes accompaniment—the act of staying with a patient until the end of their journey—scalable and accessible.
AI is a powerful tool that can amplify the efforts of healthcare professionals
Although he argued that AI can't replace person-to-person engagement, Seiguer highlighted how AI can enhance patient care. Action, our escalation engine integrated into our adherence platform, is an example. Action assists in analyzing patient videos and suggests personalized responses or interventions based on observed adherence challenges or social drivers of health.
Action can organize data collected from person-to-person interactions, enabling more informed and precise interventions, particularly in managing conditions such as asthma and diabetes. Seiguer emphasized that when used in this way, AI can amplify the efforts of healthcare professionals, improving overall quality of care and patient outcomes.
We've seen something like this before: lessons learned from the evolution of Video Directly Observed Therapy
Seiguer also reviewed the history of video DOT and drew parallels to the initial skepticism faced by this technology. The acceptance and adoption of video DOT by public health departments and, most recently, the CDC’s endorsement of the technology as equivalent to in-person DOT demonstrates the transformative power of embracing new technologies while upholding established standards.
This is a valuable lesson for integrating AI in healthcare, reminding us to be open-minded and adaptable. Seiguer also highlighted that the CDC's recommendation of video DOT specifically excluded non-video technologies, reinforcing the importance of visual and audio engagement for rich data collection and underscoring the limitations of AI.
Bringing it All Together: forging a path forward with AI
The presentation stressed that with technology, the medium should never be the message and emphasized that social connection should come via technology, not with the technology itself.
By embracing technology while sustaining the personal and empathetic relationships that define good healthcare, we can ensure a future where technology and human interaction work hand in hand to improve patient care.