Insights From Our Editors

How Will OD Practices Optimize Artificial Intelligence?

By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD

Dec. 19, 2018

Artificial intelligence is among the most exciting technology developments. Next year is sure to bring interesting developments in this area. Here’s the AI that’s on the horizon, and ideas for how it might eventually be applied to optometry.

Job Changes
Think through the jobs in your practice that could be replaced with technology combined with AI. Our children went to a dentist that replaced the receptionist with a check-in kiosk. My [Dr. Wright’s] cardiologist has done the same thing. Can you see an application for this in your practice?

With the automated technology that is currently available, can you see the addition of AI that eliminates the need for a pre-tester, and maybe even the testing done by the doctor? OK, let’s keep the doctor as a check on the technology, but it would still result in a different role for the doctor.

Can you see an automated process where technology with AI helps the patient select the perfect frames and then accurately measures the patient in the optical?

What about bookkeeping and insurance billing?

What about office cleaning? We currently use iRobot Roombas in our house to sweep the floors at designated times. They could just as easily be used in the office.

The future delivery of care will be different than what we know today.

Increased Logistics Efficiency
Improvement in supply chains is where leveraging emerging technologies like robotics, blockchain, and AI is already occurring. Ultimately, it is often the supply chain that satisfies or disappoints our patients. When the glasses or contact lenses are not delivered when promised, patients are unhappy, staff is frustrated, and we hear about it. Most of the major optical laboratories have made significant investments in improving the supply chain.

Look how Amazon has redefined customer expectations of delivery time. Expect to see supply chain changes in the next few years in our profession.

Patient Interaction and Communication
You spend a lot of marketing dollars to get potential new patients to contact the office. Would you like a tool that helped you convert more of these people into scheduled exams?

Several companies offer technology that records patient conversations with staff, and allows analysis of the conversation, retrospective feedback, and even transcription of the conversation. AI tools, such as Chorus.Ai, record, transcribe, store, analyze performance and help make the conversion process more effective and efficient.

It’s not a big leap to see how AI can analyze the exam in real time and make suggestions on everything from additional tests to run, differential diagnoses, and education material that can be placed in the patient heath record and retrieved by the patient through the patient portal.

Practice Data Analysis
What we hear from many doctors is that it is too hard to gather all the practice data and then to analyze it. What if AI could do that for you? What if AI could not only gather the practice data, but look across everything and bring to your attention just those areas needing both short- and long-term attention?

The Edge and Glimpse, just to name two products, can do that for you today. Rather than having a “feeling” about how well the practice is doing, you can know for certainty what needs attention.

Over the next few years, this technology will get even better.

Medical Breakthroughs
When all of our electronic medical records are all hooked together, then we can have access to truly big data. This has tremendous implications for evidence-based medicine. Being able to analyze every glaucoma patient in the country to determine, based on presenting case and past history, the treatment protocol that is best for each individual patient, will improve the quality of care being delivered. AI may also be able to discern trends faster and more effectively than any other approach.

What is coming is both exciting and scary. We give you this insight into what is coming, not to scare you, but to help you prepare for what is coming by seeing the positive potential of AI.

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