AI trial at Royal Brisbane tackles outpatient waitlists

3 minute read

Artificial intelligence comes to the rescue of outpatients on long waiting lists at RBWH.

Artificial intelligence is being trialled at Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital to manage outpatient long-wait lists with the goal of improving access for patients in need.

Long waiting lists are a significant challenge for public patients needing non-GP specialist evaluation and treatment. Although the recommended timeframe for a specialist to be seen is 30 days, some patients have been on waiting lists for longer than six years, a recent ABC report showed.

RBWH is trialling a solution, provided by Personify Care, to audit long-wait lists by using AI to automate processes that manually take over 30 minutes per patient.

A “long-wait” is defined as patients waiting for outpatient appointments for a timeframe that exceeds their triage category.

The Personify Care platform audits waiting lists using AI and natural language-driven processes to assess the acceptability, accuracy, and feasibility of patients who are waiting for a consultation. It provides real-time visibility of the true state of the waitlist.

A spokesperson for RBWH’s nursing director (outpatient strategies) said that although long-wait lists have always been audited to mitigate risks to patient outcomes, the current processes are manual and time consuming.

“We’re pleased with how the evaluation phase has progressed – from positive staff feedback to more easily identifying patients that no longer need to be on the waitlist. We’re now looking ahead to how we could extend this program.

“With the pathway doing our heavy lifting and a very high patient response rate, we’re pleased with the initial response to the project,” they said.

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Personify Care contacts long-wait patients based on a set of pre-defined criteria and asks a series of questions to determine ongoing need for clinical care and unreported changes to demographics.

The audit pathway requires a list of patients to be uploaded into Personify Care. Patients then receive an invitation via secure link from Metro North Health. They verify their identity through multifactor authentication and can choose to consent to share information electronically. Patients are then asked to respond to a series of questions to determine ongoing need for clinical care.

According to Personify Care, more than 95% of patients reported an “overall positive experience” using the solution in a customer survey.

Auditing waitlist pathways is a growing trend across the globe as health services seek to leverage technology to complement or replace their existing processes.

Ken Saman, chief executive of Personify Care, said this initiative mirrors a trend towards waitlist management across the globe.

“This latest digital health initiative is an exciting example of how public health services are leveraging existing resources and digital pathways to optimise patient waitlists through their reform and recovery programs,” he said.

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