Doctors in boardroom with projection of information

Mental Health and the Importance of Community Support

We've got a treat for you today! Our guest, Dr. Peggy Ranke, a healthcare veteran with over 35 years of experience, takes us for a deep drive into the AI revolution in healthcare. From automating routine tasks to mining valuable insights from data, AI is playing a game-changing role. We delve into how it's transforming areas like electronic health records, revenue cycle management, and even fortifying cybersecurity. There's a lot to learn and the discussion is sure to leave you fascinated.

In the second part of our conversation, we unfold the scope of AI in healthcare administration. Dr. Ranke informs us about how AI can be harnessed to adopt just-in-time inventory principles, minimize storage costs and wastage, and ensure the timely delivery of supplies. From managing supply chains to regulatory compliance and patient care, the expansive role of AI is quite the spectacle. We also chat about how chatbots and virtual assistants are streamlining operations, enhancing patient engagement, and amping up efficiency. If you're keen to glimpse into the future of healthcare and the role AI plays in it, this episode is a must-listen!

Show Notes

  • 0:02:06 - Dr. Ranke's Student Service and Mentoring (89 Seconds)
  • 0:12:58 - AI in Healthcare Resource Allocation (97 Seconds)
  • 0:24:19 - AI in Cyber Security for Healthcare (111 Seconds)

0:00:01 - Announcer

You are listening to the National University Podcast.

0:00:01 - Kimberly King

Hello, I'm Kimberly King. Welcome to the National University Podcast, where we offer a holistic approach to student support, well-being and success - the whole human education. We put passion into practice by offering accessible, achievable higher education to lifelong learners. Today we're talking about AI in healthcare and, according to an article in IBM Education, AI could help make healthcare operations more efficient, with administrative workflow, virtual nursing assistance, dosage, air reduction, less invasive surgeries and fraud protection, just to name a few. Very interesting information coming up in today's show.

On today's episode, we're discussing the growing role of AI in healthcare. Joining us is Dr. Peggy Ranke. Dr. Ranke is a professor and serves as the director for the Bachelor of Science Health Administration program at National University, where she's worked for over 10 years. She has over 35 years of healthcare experience as a civilian and military nurse serving in the United States Army. She earned three graduate degrees, a master's degree in public health, a master's degree in human behavior and a doctorate degree in health administration and leadership. She's also a member of the American College of Health Executives, ache, and served on the board for over 10 years as a judge for the annual ACHE Graduate College Bowl completion. Dr. Ranke served as a faculty senator and on multiple governing bodies of the university and works closely with students and serves on the dissertation committee of her alma mater, Central Michigan University. She also serves in her community, her church, and contributes to humanitarian events. She has also won multiple awards from National University, APHA, Planetree and ACHE. We welcome Dr. Peggy to the podcast. Thank you, Dr. Ranke. How are you?

0:02:08 - Doctor Peggy Ranke

Well, I'm fine. Thank you, Kimberly, and thanks for having me.

0:02:12 - Kimberly King

Wow, this is impressive. Also, thank you for your service. Why don't you fill our audience a little bit on your mission and your work before we get to today's show topic?

0:02:22 - Doctor Peggy Ranke

Sure, well, you know, Kimberly, it is my personal mission and goal to serve everyone I really come in contact with, to be somebody that can mentor people and help build them and buoy them up, because to me, what is really important is relationships, and it doesn't matter what setting you're in. It's about how one person makes another person feel. So I welcome students in my life. I love them, I want to help guide them and help them figure out their past in life and how they can do the same thing to other people, and I work with students. I'm thrilled to dive into today's world and what the students need to be efficient and effective in today's world of health care and not when I was going to school. Things have changed. I recognize that and I strongly believe in meeting students where they are and seeking students individually to be engaging with them

0:03:20 - Kimberly King

Good for you. Thank you. I love your passion, and it is a changing, ever-changing world, isn't it? So the fact that we can probably draw on the past and use the best of both worlds into the future, it seems like you're in the perfect role for that. So today we're talking about that growing role of AI in healthcare. And what is AI in healthcare administration and how does it work?

0:03:45 - Doctor Peggy Ranke

Well, thanks, I'm excited to talk about this and its growing role. AI in healthcare has various applications. It's got benefits and a lot of considerations. Organizations are increasingly adopting AI to improve efficiency and to enhance patient care, and I'll talk a little bit about what is being used already, and maybe another time we can talk about AI of the future, because that would be really fun and exciting.

AI in health care refers to the application of artificial intelligence technologies which streamline and optimize various administrative tasks and duties. It encompasses the use of algorithms and data-driven approaches. In return, it improves efficiency, accuracy and benefits in decision-making. We already use AI and we don't realize a lot of platforms that we use it in, for example, data collection and integration. We've got electronic health care records. We have billing systems and patient data and administrative databases. We collect demographics, medical histories, appointments, schedules and financial records, and then we've got AI that analyzes all of this and spits out the results, and then our administrators and leaders can use the data to support wise decisions. AI also automates routine administrative tasks to reduce manual labor and errors. For example, it can automate appointment scheduling, billing and claims processing and a lot of data language. A fun one that I like is chat box and virtual assistance.

The chatbots can be so much fun and the virtual assistance can be very helpful, and they're all powered by AI. They can engage with patients and provide support like appointment scheduling, answering questions, and they provide education and they even deliver food in in-patient stays in some organizations. One thing AI does really well is predictive analytics. They can employ predictive analytics to forecast trends for the future. It can predict patient admission rates, readmission risk and availability of hospital resources. This is extremely important in the revenue cycle. So this is an awesome benefit of AI. And there's other things. It can enhance cybersecurity, monitoring and reporting and compliance, and we can talk about that a little later. So overall, AI and healthcare administration kind of aims to enhance well, the quality and efficiency of healthcare management by automating routine tasks and improving the analysis and providing valuable insights so that ultimately provides better care and resource optimization.

0:06:42 - Kimberly King

Wow. Does it do dishes yet and do our laundry? (laughter) I hope so in the near future. Wow. What are some specific areas in healthcare administration where AI is applied specifically?

0:06:57 - Doctor Peggy Ranke

Sure. Well, you know I mentioned a few, but let's go back to the electronic health records. It's used to manage the data accuracy, retrieval, information retrieval, and it extracts insights, and it takes unstructured data and it structures it. So it all makes sense and it is impossible. It assists in revenue cycle management. It's employed to automate tasks that are related to billing and coding and claim processing, and you know this optimizes and reduces errors and you know this can be very time consuming and really high in labor costs. We talked a little bit about resource allocation, but the AI analyzes data to help administrators allocate the resources efficiently, using predictive patient admission rates and ensuring proper staffing levels as a couple of examples. It's also very useful in inventory and supply chain management. It ensures that medical supplies are available when needed, which reduces waste, and it enhances cost efficiency. This is extremely important. A lot of waste, a lot of money in waste.

0:08:10 - Kimberly King

Yeah, that is true, and you know, some things we don't even think about really until you bring that up. So that's a really good point. Going back to a little bit of the management of electronic health records, how does AI improve that? Is it EHRS, I guess? Electronic health records?

0:08:27 - Doctor Peggy Ranke

Yeah, well, it can do that by- It helps first of all with data security, so you know, and accuracy, so it checks and double checks to make sure the right patient and the right data is merging together. Otherwise, as you can imagine, there would be a lot of medical problems, which is not ever a good thing. It extracts insights and, like I said, it takes unstructured data and it can structurize it and put it in the right place, so anybody that needs that information can readily and easily search it and it's made available to them, among other things. Did that answer your question, or would you like me- It assists in billing systems, all sorts of different things.

0:09:12 - Kimberly King

Perfect. No, that's really interesting and ever changing right, so today is not going to be tomorrow in the AI world. Can AI help with revenue cycle management? I think you did mention this, too, a little bit in healthcare organizations.

0:09:28 - Doctor Peggy Ranke

Yeah, I did mention it, and it's wonderful because it's employed to automate the task, and these are tasks that are associated with billing and coding and claims processing. This is where your money comes in and gets dealt with, and this is kind of where the rubber meets the road. You need to stay on top of all of the different coding and billings and stay on top of the claims and the collections thereof, so it reduces errors and it speeds up the financial processes. Actually, if you can imagine a human having to do everything that a computer would do, it just would not make sense.

0:10:10 - Kimberly King

Well, and that's true. It's probably just so much more efficient now because it's handling the work of many humans, I suppose. Right, what are the benefits of using AI for appointments, scheduling and healthcare?

0:10:27 - Doctor Peggy Ranke

Well. AI for appointment scheduling and healthcare benefits both the providers and the patients. For example, improved efficiency. Ai-driven appointment scheduling systems can handle a large volume of appointment requests quickly and efficiently and this reduces administrative burden on staff and it minimizes waiting times for patients. It allows for 24-7 accessibility so you know patients can get in, they can book their appointments at their convenience, they can look at the appointments they have had, they can look at labs. You know they can get information on their time. It reduces no shows, which can be very costly when you have no shows and you waste that time slot for a provider. So it reduces that by filling them in and tagging them and marking them and flagging them so and always uses them for can use it for emergency appointments and other such things.

It optimizes scheduling with staff and patients, so it provides patient preferences and provider availability to optimize scheduling and it can match the patients with most suitable providers and it allocates appropriate time slots for different types of appointments depending on what that patient specifically needs. It provides patient-centric booking. Ai can take patient preferences into account, such as their location, a type of provider they want, their preferred time of day, and it can ensure that the scheduling process is patient-centric. A couple other things that it can do is minimize overbooking, so you know you don't go to an appointment and have to wait for 40 minutes because they overbooked. It's got emergency scheduling, as I mentioned, rescheduling. That is a real plus, which this is a huge reduction in administrative cost, because it automates the aspects of administration to include scheduling and workload and things like that that really tend to add up quickly. And finally, it increases patient satisfaction. It provides a faster, more convenient scheduling and, again, it reduces wait times, which always increases patient satisfaction, it seems. So it's really a good thing.

0:12:49 - Kimberly King

And I guess AI never gets sick or takes a break or calls out and available 24-7 too. Right, very good point. So how does AI contribute to resource allocation in healthcare administration?

0:13:04 - Doctor Peggy Ranke

Well, it contributes by analyzing data patterns and trends and it ensures that resources such as staff, facilities and equipment are all allocated effectively. And it can achieve this by, again, data analysis demand forecasting. That's a huge thing. For example, it can predict the number of patients likely to be admitted on a given day or the number of appointments required for specific services. Therefore, it can aid in staffing needs, which creates optimal staffing. So it takes into account factors like the patient volume, service types and staff availability.

It provides dynamic scheduling, which means it provides real-time scheduling recommendations and allocates the staff to base on that. It adjusts schedules. It also prioritizes resources, which is nice. For example, it ensures that critical patients receive immediate attention. So basically, it's a triage and that's very important if you're the real sick patient that needs immediate attention now. It helps with facility utilization and, of course, the patient flow optimization, which again decreases the wait time and waste a lot of money and time resource allocation during a crisis. And it can help in the quality of care by ensuring that patient receive the right care at the right time and improving the quality of care provided by the organization. So, Kimberly, overall it's AI's contribution to resource allocation in healthcare administration. It's driven by the ability to process a lot of data, predict demand and offer recommendations in real time, and this all leads to a more efficient resource utilization and improved patient care and, of course, better cost management for healthcare organizations.

0:15:02 - Kimberly King

So, hopefully, all positive changes as we move into this future of AI, and it sounds like it anyway. This is such great, interesting information and right now we have to just take a quick break, but we will have more in just a moment, don't go away, we'll be right back. And now back to our interview with National University Professor, Dr. Peggy Ranke, and we're discussing artificial intelligence and the impact it is having on healthcare. And so, Dr., can AI assist in inventory and supply chain management in healthcare organizations?

0:15:36 - Doctor Peggy Ranke

Hi, Kimberly, you know that's a great question and, yes, ai can significantly assist in inventory and supply chain management. Ensuring medical supplies and equipment efficiently is crucial for providing quality patient care. It optimizes cost and it maintains regulatory compliance. And AI can optimize inventory and supply change management by analyzing usage patterns, ensuring that medical supplies and equipment are available when they're needed, and it minimizes waste. So AI can enhance inventory and supply chain management in healthcare through several different ways. One of them is by demand forecasting. So AI analyzes historical usage patterns, patient admissions and procedural schedules and it predicts future demand and medical supplies.

We kind of talked about that a little bit. It's got automated reordering. You might notice, sometimes you're in a supermarket and those people go around with their little handguns and they’re zapping the QR codes. Well, they're automatically reordering and that's what AI can do for us as well. This is a really important one.

This is called just-in-time inventory, and AI can implement just-in-time inventory principles, which is really important in supplying that our supplies arrive precisely when they're needed. It minimizes storage cost and waste while keeping supplies available and fresh, and to that point, when I was nursing back in the day, we used to keep all of our materials that we needed in the dresser drawer by the bed. Imagine you'd have your four by four scissors, tape, gauze, whatever you needed. You'd keep it in the drawer because you didn't want to have to run to go get it and bring it back to the room. Well, they found when they started with all this quality and lean started getting into play. They found that a lot of those things in those drawers were expired and it was very expensive to keep putting stuff in drawers and then having to throw them away because it's expired. So this just-in-time inventory is a huge cost benefit with AI.

0:17:48 - Kimberly King

Well then there's- Oh, excuse me. Again, it's one of those things we don't really always think about, and so even those expired products that you're talking about, that's another great use for AI. So, anyway, I didn't mean to interrupt you, go ahead.

0:18:03 - Doctor Peggy Ranke

No, no, you're fine, thank you, and you're right. Anything that you have to throw away or waste and it adds up quickly, yeah.

So AI in supply chain management also aids in supply chain visibility. It provides real-time visibility to the entire supply chain so everybody knows where everything is at any given moment. This transparency is essential in monitoring and optimizing the supply chain. Cost optimization it's. It identifies cost saving opportunities like bulk purchasing or group purchasing or alternative suppliers, and reducing procurement costs. I mean this is great. It checks expiration dates, you know, it does inventory tracking. Waste reduction again. And, very importantly, it aids in regulatory compliance. So it helps organizations maintain that supply is meet quality and safety standards and that all the documentation and reporting requirements have been met. So those are a few ways that it helps, and A I S Roland, inventory and supply also enhance operational efficiency. But they it can trip. It contributes to better patient care by ensuring that essential supplies are consistently available and this enables the patient to be able to respond to the needs of the patient. And it's also significantly and it reduces cost and it adapts to changing circumstances effectively. Long answer for a short question. (laughs)

0:19:41 - Kimberly King

Probably adapts, maybe perhaps better than some humans. Right the wrong time right. What's the role of chatbots and virtual assistance in healthcare administration?

0:20:01 - Doctor Peggy Ranke

They streamline processes, they improve patient engagement and, you know, they enhance overall efficiency- we talked about the appointment scheduling.

This is huge. This saves hours of labor, wage time, patient registration- patients can register on their chat bots, you know, on their phone, on their- it's just with billing and payment assistance they can answer questions related to billing. It can provide payment options you can pay with your chat bots. It can help resolve billing disputes and it can also send payment reminders and do all the processing. So not only can it do the payments, but it can also ensure insurance verification which is vital for the patient's health care coverage. It aids in prescription refills so you're not out of medication. It serves as a reminder for reading refill requests it notifies patients when their medications are ready so they can go pick them up. It offers a medical record access to the patient so they have real time on demand access to their medical health care and treatment plan, which is important to know. You know, with the high GDP in health care, the last thing we want to do is redo treatment that has already been done. We need to share what another provider perhaps has already done.

0:21:36 - Kimberly King

Yeah, it double checks if maybe you weren't within the healthcare organization, but it can- It can cross reference and like that, you know you can double check If you have a medical record, access to your medical relapse or if you receive treatment elsewhere… it can kind of make sure and double check?

0:22:02 - Doctor Peggy Ranke

Well, I don't know if it's that intelligent at this point for, say, but everything within the real world that's gone in there it can you know, with tip of regulations and whatnot you have to be real careful about letting information from one organization go out to another. But you know, ideally, you know, the medical record would mean everybody has access to the same thing and that's kind of, you know, it's a vague nuance that people, they just kind of always assume an EHR isn't is a medical record. But you know, I don't think we're there yet but it's good. The patient can always, you know, give consent, but they can always open up their medical health record and show it.

So they can share it, yeah, and go ahead. I did another real important things that that it can do is that the health care system can conduct a health risk assessment by asking the patients a series of questions which can identify potential health risk and recommend appropriate care follow up depending on how the answer yes, if it's this way, then this you know kind of an if, then types scenario. So, and then finally, it aids in the privacy and data security. It ensures that sensitive patient information is handled by the health care system and you know regulations and what not.

0:23:24 - Kimberly King

And that leads directly to my next question. Is that does it improve the cybersecurity and health care administration? Does that- I know that still kind of a slippery slope, so to speak.

0:23:32 - Doctor Peggy Ranke

You know it, yes and no, I mean whenever you know it's out there, if you will. Well, you're making yourself honorable, but we cannot not be that. It’s the good guy and the bad guys, you know we learn, they learn and we just keep on growing together. But yes, I improved side cybersecurity and health care administration by enhancing the ability to well, it detects and prevents and it can even respond to cybersecurity threats and data breaches. So it knows immediately if there's a data breach the organizations handle sensitive patient information and it makes them very attractive targets for cyber attacks.

Well, in a few ways again threat detection, ai powered cybersecurity systems. They are continuously monitoring the network traffic in the systems and they checked devices for unusual or suspicious behavior they have machine learning algorithms which take us back to this thinking process- that can recognize patterns and be indicative of cyber threats, including malware, intrusions and other types of threats. It also has an anomaly detection. So if something is not right or if it's an unusual behavior, it can identify that and it can mark it and flag it. If it's without the established norm, it gives you real-time alerts again, so, on the spot, we know immediately.

AI is so advanced, it can conduct behavioral analysis, both work traffic and of users. So it distinguishes between a legitimate user, which would be, you know, the healthcare provider, whatnot and then somebody who's malicious. So it's pretty keen. It's data encryption it assists in encrypting sensitive data, it checks for vulnerability, it's got phishing detection, security automation, loss prevention and just so much more. Again, the continuous monitoring is probably one of the most important features. So AI's role in cyber security for healthcare is crucial, especially in an era where cyber threats are becoming more sophisticated and more frequent, and by leveraging AI technologies, organizations can bolster their defenses and protect their patient data, and they can ensure that the integrity and availability of critical healthcare systems remains intact.

0:26:12 - Kimberly King

Great, wow. Well, that seems a little more positive. That kind of also goes with my next question, and that is what about the ethical considerations and how important is the use of AI in healthcare administrations with that ethical consideration?

0:26:34 - Doctor Peggy Ranke

Yeah, and you know that's a huge question and you know AI is- It's such a huge gamut. It goes from these little automatic processes to, you know, being able to detect communication from another planet. So it's pretty incredible. But the use of AI in healthcare administration comes with a lot of important ethical considerations and they need to be addressed to ensure responsible and ethical deployment in the use of these technologies. Some key considerations are the data privacy and security. Protecting patient data is paramount. It is the number one thing we have to focus on to ensure that AI systems handle the information securely. It's paramount. And transparency is also very important.

AI algorithms are used in healthcare administration should be transparent and they should be explainable. It should not be something for the closed set of books. You know it needs to be where people can utilize the data and they can see what's going on. The patient healthcare profession should understand how AI based decisions are made, especially in critical areas like when you're diagnosing and treatment recommendations. You know they have to have these transparencies. On the other hand, you have to abide by HIPAA and GDPR, which is the data breach and misuse guide, so you've got to prevent those things too.

So ethical considerations, biases and fairness- Algorithms can inherit biases, which to me is just totally amazing. But you know they receive this data and they're trained on it, and so the organization really needs to address and mitigate these biases that can lead to discrimination in patient care related to race, gender, socioeconomic status or whatever else. Clear accountability for these generated decisions. If this goes back to the transparency if healthcare providers delegate responsibility to an AI system, they should be able to override the AI recommendations when necessary. So you know we're going to AI for support and recommendations. You know we need to make sure that we are controlling them.

0:28:52 - Kimberly King

Right, that's true. Who's the boss, right? How can healthcare administrators ensure compliance, then, with regulations when implementing those AI solutions?

0:29:04 - Doctor Peggy Ranke

Well, they can follow a series of best practices. Taking certain steps, they can establish strong foundations for compliance with healthcare regulatory regulations, when implementing AI solutions, for example. They can have their best practices. They can all be on the same page. They can make these open and transparent.

So everybody knows Compliance is essential, and not only to avoid the legal penalties but also to maintain, you know, patient trust and data security in this whole healthcare ecosystem and there are a lot of considerations with regulations. You know you have to understand specific healthcare regulations that apply to your organization, to the state in which you live, to the country in which you live. You've got to engage with legal and compliance experts. You know a lot of collaboration. You need to interpret and navigate the complex legal landscape which is forever changing, which you've mentioned, Kimberly. But it ensures that AI solutions are implemented in a compliant way with the law. It maintains some data governance you know that falls under compliance security and encryption. Consent management you know it can implement systems for obtaining and managing patient consent forms, which are huge. So those are just a few things.

0:30:33 - Kimberly King

And so what about cost savings and the potential of saving some money associated with the AI adoption in healthcare admin?

0:30:41 - Doctor Peggy Ranke

That's a good question and one that everybody wants to know. AI, though seemingly expensive on the front end, actually is- It's got potential ability for cost savings. These cost savings may result from increased efficiency, a reduction of errors, from optimizing resource allocation, reducing administrative overhead. Again, it streamlines revenue cycle management. It aids in the appointment and scheduling resource allocation. We've talked about these predictive analysis, telehealth - we haven't talked about telehealth, but AI can extend the reach of healthcare services through telehealth, reducing the cost associated with physical infrastructure, you know, by having to go somewhere. And telehealth provides cost-effective care for remote and underserved populations.

0:31:39 - Kimberly King

Wow. Well, hopefully, with all of this efficiency you know, using AI it was also as we are talking about be more efficient and cost savings as well. So can AI assist in improving patient engagement in healthcare administration? I think you've talked a little bit about this as well, and we're kind of used to using the portals. But, yeah, talk a little bit about patient engagement.

0:32:05 - Doctor Peggy Ranke

Yeah, sure, but back to your last question, sorry. It is important to note that the cost savings associated with AI adoption in healthcare administration- It may vary, it may be depending on the specific use in the cases and the scale of implementation, but we need to understand that each organization has its unique tech challenges and that's fine. But overall, AI has the potential to improve all that efficiency of healthcare administration and it reduces the operational costs overall and simultaneously improves patient care and outcomes. So if I didn't make that perfectly clear before, I wanted to do that now. Thank you.

Okay, AI can assist in improving patient engagement by enhancing communication, providing personalized care, offering convenient access for information and services. And you know, you can do fun things. You can make healthcare education fun. That's a wonderful way to engage patients. You can give them little games, little video games that they can play on their devices that are health related to their treatment and care. And it's fun. And you know, studies show that when you're having fun and you're engaged, your learning increases. So AI, virtual health assistance and chatbots can interact with patients in real time and that they can answer the questions and provide information. And all of these things increase patient engagement and provide for a positive patient satisfaction.

0:33:34 - Kimberly King

Great. I mean, it all sounds great and I guess this is the period of time that we're just kind of getting all of the you know, the hiccups out, I suppose. So the goal is a positive goal. So thank you so much for sharing in your knowledge and time today. It's been really interesting learning about, you know, AI and healthcare administration. If you want more information, you could visit National University's website and it's And thank you so very much, Doctor, for your time today.

0:34:05 - Doctor Peggy Ranke

And thank you for having me, Kimberly.

0:34:10 - Kimberly King

You've been listening to the National University podcast. For updates on future or past guests, visit us at You can also follow us on social media. Thanks for listening.

Show Quotables

"One thing AI does really well is predictive analytics. They can employ predictive analytics to forecast trends for the future. It can predict patient admission rates, readmission risk and availability of hospital resources. - Peggy Ranke" Click to Tweet
"[AI is] also very useful in inventory and supply chain management. It ensures that medical supplies are available when needed, which reduces waste, and it enhances cost efficiency. - Peggy Ranke" Click to Tweet