4 benefits of cybernetics for healthcare (according to actual users)

March 19, 2021

Healthcare has increasingly been looking to artificial intelligence to solve many of the industry’s problems, but artificial intelligence is a broad term that actually encompasses many different technologies. Currently, when most healthcare leaders think of AI, they are thinking of RPA or intelligent automation solutions. They may also think about machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision… the list goes on. But there’s another type of artificial intelligence you may not have heard of: healthcare cybernetics. It’s a new, exciting application of AI that has recently hit the market.

Cybernetics is its own scientific field that studies communication and systems between machines and living things. Cybernetics augments or assists human employees with their work as they are doing it, providing helpful information or recommendations. Olive has created Olive Helps, a healthcare cybernetic solution, to provide healthcare workers with invaluable, real-time artificial intelligence assistance.

How does this look in practice? We recently talked to two Olive customers, MemorialCare Health System and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, about their experiences with and plans for cybernetics at their organizations (here’s the full webinar). One of the main takeaways from our conversation is that cybernetics is much more than a point solution to take on one task, it is a versatile platform that these leaders view as a way to transform how their hospitals and healthcare workers function. It is a new approach to deploying artificial intelligence in healthcare that they see becoming an integral part of their total AI strategy.

Here are four ways these hospitals are using cybernetics to change how they operate:

1. Improving the call center

Health system call centers receive thousands of calls each day, and employees have to parse through complex and large spreadsheets of information on providers, specialties, locations, etc. to get the right information to help each caller. The complexity and size of the spreadsheets that call center employees have to use slows down the process of helping patients and can also lead to mistakes or errors. Plus, given the volume, call centers miss a substantial percentage of calls each day.

With cybernetics, key information about a call can be easily brought up on the computer screen faster. This reduces call time and increases caller satisfaction because they can get help more quickly and efficiently. In just weeks, MemorialCare has identified call time reduction of an average of one minute per call with the adoption of Olive Helps. In the call center, time is money, so the ROI is clear.

2. Centralizing and creating access to knowledge

Healthcare has a steep learning curve, whatever function you’re in. There are nuanced industry details and dozens of systems with separate log-ins and interfaces used every day. Often, insights and instructions are simply held in the heads of individual employees, on Post-it Notes, or in binders stuffed with papers. Cybernetics in healthcare can centralize and create access to this knowledge, which not only ensures smooth continuation of work if an employee suddenly leaves, but also helps standardize processes and speeds onboarding employees.

Another specific example from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is in its scheduling department. Deb Lowe, Administrator of Revenue Cycle explained, “If you’ve walked into any centralized scheduling shops in healthcare, you see a plethora of Post-it Notes, some of them that are stale dated from five years ago that have never been updated and some that are illegible … so we’re really excited to be trying out Olive Helps with our scheduling department to provide that instantaneous information to the scheduler on what information they need as they hover over certain items.” By centralizing its knowledge base, Ohio State can ensure everyone in its scheduling department operates at the highest level with all the information they need to work more effectively.

3. Increasing employee satisfaction

2020 was a challenging year for healthcare. Employees need good news. With cybernetics, you can provide that good news to employees by giving them a solution that helps them do their jobs better and faster – like Olive Helps. It is an easy-to-use technology that provides instant, tangible benefits.

“The UI of Olive Helps, the user interface, it’s very friendly, super easy to use. Aesthetically pleasing, it’s not a crazy EMR system that takes you weeks to learn. People adopted using Olive Helps within an hour of it being installed on the laptop.” – Brian Dowd, Executive Director of Digital Transformation and Innovation at MemorialCare Health System

Our customers have first deployed cybernetics in scheduling and call centers, where employee dissatisfaction and burnout is common. Employees can spend all day talking to upset or frustrated patients. There is nothing worse than struggling to find the information they need, feeling the other person growing frustrated with waiting. They need to be able to help the patients as quickly and efficiently as possible. With artificial intelligence providing the right information in real time, these employees’ jobs become easier and more enjoyable.

“To be able to take some of this repetitive, redundant lift off of our employees, as they have been in this non-community culture, black hole for the last year, has really been one of the exciting things we’ve been able to share with our staff in town halls and in one-on-one conversations.” – Deb Lowe, Administrator, Revenue Cycle at The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center

4. Providing recommendations

Cybernetics won’t just create helpful data lookup tools, it will also be able to analyze multiple data sources to quickly provide recommendations. Imagine decision making as a loop, where the employee gets information, makes a decision and then learns from that decision. Cybernetics inserts itself into that process, taking data from multiple sources and then nudging the employee with intelligence at their fingertips. In essence, it improves the human decision making loop by supplying additional information.

At Ohio State, they are looking at using a cybernetic model to provide their registration staff information on patient propensity to pay. Staff can then use information surfaced through Olive Helps to determine how much of a deposit to require or waive for a specific patient and specific procedure.

Artificial intelligence is able to gather and analyze data much faster than a human can, so with cybernetics, health systems will be able to provide these data-based recommendations in real-time, helping employees continuously throughout the day.

Cybernetics is the next application of AI that can give health systems an edge

“The possibilities are endless… where am I not going to put it [Olive Helps]?” – Brian Dowd

An AI-powered digital assistant working hand-in-hand with employees is the future of the healthcare workforce. It’s an accessible way to break down data and knowledge silos between systems and people, providing enhanced ROI for a health system’s bottom line and its employees. The possibilities for deployment are endless with a multitude of workflows and use cases that this technology can apply to and augment. With cybernetics, we can turn our humans into superhumans, giving them the tools they need to thrive in the future of healthcare.

Learn more about Olive Helps, healthcare’s cybernetic sidekick.