Therapists will soon be able to use AI to lighten their workload : Technology : Tech Times

Applications of AI

Artificial intelligence-powered therapists may soon be a reality as new software providers look to harness the burgeoning technology to ease the tedious workload of mental health professionals.

Sources say AI tools for therapists are becoming more popular as the number of people with mental health issues, especially young people, grows. Therapists are said to be overworked due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting epidemic of loneliness, which has led to severe staffing shortages in the mental health sector and further reduced access to treatment.

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) tool that uses a drawing task to predict anxiety levels.
(Photo: MARCOS PIN/AFP via Getty Images)

A therapist's day-to-day work involves more than just leading sessions. It also involves scheduling, organizing, and tracking patients' electronic health records (EHRs). According to several therapists who spoke with other sources, managing EHRs is one of the most challenging aspects of the job.

Many AI solutions for therapists, like most business and productivity AI applications, are designed to relieve administrative tasks for overworked clinicians. Some tools use AI to evaluate patient data to help therapists identify nuances in a patient's progress and mental health.

Read also: Technology Trends in U.S. Healthcare: 2024 and Beyond

AI software for medical administration

AI note-taking tools that are Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant can be useful, and one such application is Upheal, which can be used on a mobile device or in a therapist’s browser to listen in on in-person or virtual sessions via Zoom and other platforms.

Providers can choose templates for solo or couples sessions, and Upheal will take care of recording session notes appropriately. Once the provider reviews and approves the notes, they can be transferred to the therapist's EHR platform.

Beyond basic transcription, Upheal's AI can also recommend treatment strategies based on what it hears and provide additional insights and data, and the company assures on its website that it complies with health data standards such as HIPAA and GDPR.

Although there are several digital EHR services, such as TherapyNotes, AI speeds up the note-taking process. With Upheal, therapists no longer need to type or review notes after sessions, allowing them to focus solely on their clients. Additionally, it also helps therapists with neurodevelopmental disorders, for whom paperwork can be particularly challenging.

AI takes on health documentation

Similarly, the Canadian province of Ontario evaluated AI in April as an automated transcription and summarization device for patient visits as part of an effort to reduce administrative workload for doctors.

The pilot program will deploy artificial intelligence software, Scribe, which will help compile patient encounters into electronic medical records, with patient consent.

Sources said studies conducted in other countries have shown that AI software can free up up to 50 percent of doctors' off-hours time spent on administrative tasks, allowing them to see more patients.

Dr. Andrew Park, president of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), argued that “unnecessary administrative burdens” are costing family doctors more than 19 hours a week, preventing them from seeing more patients and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. The OMA said roughly four hours are wasted just collecting government medical forms and writing sick notes.

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