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The Empathy Gap: Designing Intelligent Healthcare Systems

by Jane Vance and Tim Caynes
8th March 2018

In 2018 Venture Capitalists are heralding intelligent healthcare as a big commercial opportunity, but how close are we to these systems which create better patient outcomes?

In this write-up, we discuss how the ‘empathy gap’ that exists between individuals and healthcare systems needs to close if we are to see significant financial and technological gain.

We've spoken at a number of events in the past few months on this topic and have decided to share some of our learnings from working with our healthcare clients Simplyhealth and Cydar.

The key points from our article are as follows:

  • AI provides a significant commercial opportunity to healthcare, providers, practitioners and patients.
  • To take advantage of this opportunity the ‘empathy gap’ that exists between intelligent systems and human relationships and connections needs to be closed.
  • The empathy gap is the biggest challenge and opportunity for learning systems in healthcare.
  • Hiring experience designers means the gap between technology and healthcare providers can be bridged.
  • Experience designers can help facilitate the understanding of the human journey individuals make through these systems. They can also identify the opportunities for AI to enhance that experience for the patients.
  • Understanding the context of patients’ journeys is crucial to closing the empathy gap. But, AI currently lacks the human element which facilitates deep and empathetic understanding of people who are under stress and having emotional difficulty due to illness or aging.
  • Healthcare practitioners are under ever increasing stress – they cannot explain everything patients need to know. This means people are increasingly finding information - largely online - to educate themselves.
  • People are often more cautious with online sources of information - health is a very personal thing and people are wary about where they place their trust.

The bottom line is: to bridge the empathy gap we need to design new ways of supporting people as they move through a patient journey and provide them with right information and support at the right time.

Learning systems which provide frictionless experiences for patients and carers are being worked on – but before these systems are entirely controlled by an AI which delivers intelligent emotional responses they have a long way to go to provide true value to healthcare providers and users.

Read the article in full here on AI Business.

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