Harnessing Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a buzz word frequently thrown around with minimal explanation of what it can do or who it benefits. At its core, artificial intelligence harnesses computers to perform routine tasks that can be programmed to generate repeatable outcomes. When combined with machine learning, the system provides continual feedback to the computer, so it improves over time. In short, machine learning allows a computer improve results over time – much like people do!

This continual improvement enables more robust self-service. As consumers, we see this in our daily lives as each of us shift to self-service for greater convenience. This has accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. How many of us shifted to ordering and paying for our groceries online? Or have begun to use online payments or check deposits? Our clients and their patients expect the same from us. The bottom line is that some people prefer not to interact with a human to complete everyday tasks.

At the same time, artificial intelligence can’t perform complex tasks that require human intuition or judgement. When you have a complex banking question or issue, you don’t want to use your online banking app – you want to talk to a real person who can solve the problem. Our clients and their patients are much the same. AI is an outstanding solution for routine tasks where the patient doesn’t have a question or need assistance resolving their account. But our team will remain foundational in providing great service to patients when they need assistance on a complex account.

As State continues to implement AI, computers will complete an increasing number of routine tasks, enabling team members to focus on complex tasks, including those requiring human intuition, judgement and empathy for a patient. Put another way – machines will handle the boring tasks, allowing our team to focus on more important and interesting work.
State is implementing two major initiatives in 2020: Texting and Interactive Virtual Assistant.

As patient communication preferences continue to shift, State needs to adapt to provide a positive patient experience. Many patients prefer texting a primary method of communication. Especially if the patients don’t have questions, many prefer to receive a text and make a routine payment using an online portal. This allows the patient to take care of the account at their convenience, using any Internet connected device. It is truly a win-win. The patient manages their account in a way they prefer, at their convenience. State is able to focus our resources on patients who have questions, need assistance or simply would prefer to work with a human to resolve their account. By maximizing our resources, we can better achieve our client’s expectations for hold times and abandonment rates.

Interactive Virtual Assistant
The State team has been diligently working with our partners, Interactions and Ontario Systems, to launch Interactive Virtual Assistant (IVA) technology by the end of the year. We’ve named our system MIA (My Intelligent Assistant). Available 24/7/365 even when our office is closed, this will enable patients to call in and complete routine tasks while speaking with the computer using only their voice. This system eliminates the need to push telephone keys as required by the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system we use today.
Similar to texting, MIA will handle routine tasks that don’t require human intuition or decision making and enables our team to focus on complex patient accounts where a human is needed.

We will share results with the team as they are available for both initiatives. Until then, we can all appreciate machines handling some of our routine, time-consuming tasks and focus on more interesting and complex tasks where each of us can truly make