Artificial intelligence (AI) can be a powerful tool for healthcare providers, aiding in diagnostics, treatment planning, and patient care. And while this revolution in tech can benefit the healthcare industry in many ways, navigating the balance between humanity and technology is more nuanced than it might seem. 

Traditionally, healthcare professionals have been the embodiment of empathy, offering compassionate care, active listening, and emotional support to patients. Human connection, empathy's bedrock, has been vital in building trust and fostering healing relationships. However, limited time, support, and resources have been, and continue to be, barriers to this connection. There is extensive research on the challenges in patient-provider dynamic, and lack of provider empathy is consistently a top barrier to a patient having a satisfying relationship with their provider. This is where AI comes in.

AI has shown great potential in analyzing vast amounts of data, identifying patterns, and providing evidence-based recommendations. A key benefit of AI is efficiency, which may free up healthcare professionals to spend more time with patients, amplifying their capacity to connect on an emotional level. 

While AI can analyze data and provide recommendations, it lacks the human touch needed to interpret non-verbal cues, detect subtle changes in mood, and empathize on a deeply emotional level. The human element of empathy is rooted in shared experiences, intuition, and genuine human connection. AI has the inability to truly be empathic towards patients because it will never be able to ever feel empathy for the human experience. 

We see this duality reflected in HCP attitudes about AI. Using data from the Mindset Engine, Syneos Health’s proprietary intelligence platform, we see that overall, the majority of HCPs don’t have strong opinions about the impact of AI on how they make clinical decisions (at least not yet). Smaller proportions of HCPs in our data either welcome a greater role for AI in their practice, or think it’s overrated and diminishes the value of human experience. Clearly, HCPs are at different stages of the adoption curve when it comes to how important AI is when making clinical decisions.

It is important to recognize that AI in healthcare is not meant to replace healthcare professionals but to augment their capabilities. By embracing AI as an ally, HCPs can leverage its analytical prowess to enhance their own empathetic practices. AI can provide valuable insights and guidance, allowing healthcare professionals to make more informed decisions and personalized recommendations, ultimately enhancing the overall patient experience.

5 Ways Healthcare Professionals Can Use AI to Build Better Patient Relationships

  1. Personalized Care Plans: AI can analyze vast amounts of patient data, medical records, and research to generate personalized care plans. By leveraging AI algorithms, healthcare professionals can create tailored treatment strategies that address the unique needs and preferences of each patient. This personalized approach fosters trust, demonstrates attentiveness, and empowers patients to actively participate in their healthcare journey.
  2. Predictive Analytics: Utilizing AI-driven predictive analytics, healthcare professionals can identify potential health risks and intervene proactively. By analyzing patient data and identifying patterns, AI can help identify patients at risk of developing specific conditions or experiencing adverse events. This proactive approach allows healthcare professionals to offer preventive measures, early intervention, and personalized recommendations, ultimately strengthening the patient-provider relationship through improved health outcomes.
  3. Intelligent Virtual Assistants: Intelligent virtual assistants powered by AI technology can streamline administrative tasks, enabling healthcare professionals to focus more on patient interaction. These assistants can handle appointment scheduling, medication reminders, and even answer basic health-related questions. By automating routine tasks in just seconds, healthcare professionals can dedicate more time to engage with patients, actively listen to their concerns, and provide empathetic care. 
  4. Patient Monitoring and Engagement: AI-powered wearable devices and remote monitoring systems offer healthcare professionals valuable real-time data about patients' health conditions and behavior patterns. By monitoring patients remotely, healthcare professionals can intervene promptly in case of emergencies, adjust treatment plans as needed, and maintain continuous communication. This heightened level of engagement demonstrates the healthcare provider's commitment to the patient's well-being and strengthens the patient-provider bond.
  5. Emotional Support and Mental Health: AI-based chatbots and virtual mental health assistants can provide valuable emotional support to patients. These virtual tools can engage in conversations, offer coping strategies, and provide resources for mental health concerns. While AI is not a substitute for human interaction, it can act as an accessible and supportive resource, empowering patients and encouraging them to seek additional help when needed. 

Conclusion: As healthcare professionals embrace the potential of AI, they can revolutionize patient care and build stronger relationships. By leveraging AI for personalized care plans, predictive analytics, intelligent virtual assistants, patient monitoring, and mental health support, healthcare professionals can enhance patient experiences, demonstrate empathy, and improve health outcomes. The integration of AI into healthcare practices presents an exciting opportunity for healthcare professionals to combine their expertise with technological advancements, ultimately fostering better patient relationships in the modern era of healthcare.

About the Author:

Kelly Abrams, Content Strategy Director at Syneos Health Communications, has a deep curiosity for what drives human behavior and is passionate about telling stories that connect the dots between data and the everyday. Prior to her career at Syneos, Kelly helped clients build brand loyalty and communicate with purpose in industries like retail, healthcare, and higher education.