How a workforce of robots (bots) could automate mundane tasks on an unprecedented scale across the healthcare landscape.

In 1943, Thomas Watson, President of IBM, famously said: “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, said in 1977: “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”

Fast forward and we can see a personal computer put computing in the hands of the people and allowed them to achieve more than ever before.

The personal computer of AI is called a bot. A bot is an application that can be trained to perform automated tasks. A bot might text you appointment reminders, or help you build and execute a digital marketing strategy. Bots can democratize AI in a way a mainframe-like application never could, because your average joe can put a bot in their back-office without any formal training.

AI MED: What can bots do for healthcare?

Well, it turns out, a lot. Currently, humans in healthcare spend a lot of time moving data. They log into a portal, get data, log into another portal, migrate that data, format that data, and hit save. Then they move over to another portal, get some more data…you get the picture. In effect, they spend a lot of time being a human router; they move data from place to place, but don’t do anything with it.

This is an inefficient use of human time. Humans are creative, innovative and inventive. We suffer when we’re made to do something monotonous like routing.

You know what is good at routing? Bots. Specifically, a special type of bot called a SCILBOT.

AI MED: What is a SCILBOT?

Super-Connected – Think super in the context of superstructure. Think super as it pertains to being above the base layer. Think connections beyond a single software application. Think connections beyond a single enterprise. SCILBOTS will understand what other SCILBOTS have done at a complete and specific level. They will understand the continuum of what actions have occurred on any entity (think any person, place or thing like an account, customer, product, patient, etc).

Intelligent – SCILBOTS will have the capacity to understand, retain, and organize all the data associated with all the work they do with no exceptions. They will understand context and correlations. And since they are super-connected, they will have the capacity to share this knowledge.

Learning – The SCILBOTS will learn how to do their job better, together. They will start with basic capabilities of supervised machine learning on the left end of the machine intelligence spectrum, and humans will eventually build the cognitive capabilities for the SCILBOTS to advance into the realm of advanced unsupervised machine intelligence. With the power of human innovation that comes along with platform development (like the internet), this will happen faster than any of us can imagine.

AI MED: What’s the difference between a SCILBOT and a regular bot?
  1. A SCILBOT can use software applications the way humans do. No API or SDK needed; a SCILBOT uses the same interface a human does.
  2. It’s intelligent. It remembers what systems it’s looked at and what it did on those systems. It organizes this information in a way that makes it easy to navigate and retrieve.
  3. It learns. It learns from everything it’s ever done. If it’s looked at the same kind of patient file over and over, it recognizes that patient file. It recognizes procedures, billing instructions, and any other processes.

These three characteristics mean SCILBOTs can take the place of the human router. They can use any crappy software, including your EMR, your revenue cycle tool, your CRM, and your ERP. SCILBOTs can send emails, log into software solutions, move data, work with data, and deliver reports. Any computer tool a human can use, SCILBOTS can use it too. This includes the patchwork of software that makes up a typical hospital, with as many as a dozen different portals, each of which requires a manual unto itself to understand.

This is a powerful capability, and it will only get more powerful. Right now, software is designed to keep out bots, with reCAPTCHA boxes and tests designed to filter bots out. Because of this, SCILBOTs learn how to use human interfaces. But as SCILBOTs proliferate through the market, software will be designed not only to accommodate humans, but SCILBOTs as well.

In the future, software designers will design software with two interfaces: the human interface and the SCILBOT interface. Hospital CIOs will ask vendors, “Does your portal have a bot interface? We have a workforce of 4600 bots on our billing team. They need to be able to use this software.” Software vendors will respond by designing a back-end, computer-friendly interface that the SCILBOTs can use with no training. Having a team of SCILBOTs will become the industry standard.

Eliminating the human router in healthcare will decrease the amount of time administrative tasks take by a wide margin. We are talking improvements of 10x speed or more.

Over the long-term, SCILBOTs can get involved in clinical care, helping doctors and nurses identify health issues and move patients to the treatment they need.

But to get to that future, we have to start using them now. SCILBOTs aren’t going to help anyone if they’re doing clinical studies in a lab. The only way they can help people is if they are out there in doctor’s offices and hospitals. The best way to get there is to start them on simple tasks, like admin.

AI may seem intimidating and unapproachable, but innovations that will truly change healthcare aren’t the large and unapproachable algorithms, but small and capable SCILBOTs doing simple tasks.

This article originally appeared in AIMed Magazine issue 05, a Deep Dive on Robotic Technology & Virtual Assistants, which you can access here.

You can catch author Sean Lane at AIMed North America in under two weeks time. Sign up for our global conference here.

Author Bio

sean lane bots artificial intelligence healthcare ai medicineSean Lane – CEO and Co-Founder, Olive

Sean is a serial inventor, investor and entrepreneur with a deep background in technology. A former Air Force Intelligence Officer and NSA Fellow, Sean served five tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq before founding Battlefield Telecommunications Systems (BTS). Sean has founded technology companies in Ohio, Maryland, and Virginia, and serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of OmniScience Technology Partners (OSTP), Olive, and Lane Capital. A graduate of Miami University with an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service from the University of Rio Grande, Sean was selected as an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Maryland.