The adoption of digital health automation is transforming the delivery of healthcare. The potential for significant progress in the quality and efficiency of healthcare products, services, and delivery is already widely documented. In the process of transforming care pathways with digital automation, the role of the clinician shifts to working at the top of their licence, however, the impacts on the ‘individual’ are poorly understood. With this research, we seek to answer questions such as: how do clinicians feel receiving outputs from an automated system? Do they feel they have more empowerment or autonomy? Does this have an impact on their burnout and resilience? And ultimately, how can we use digital automation to empower and improve the quality of their working lives?
In prior research, we have generated data on patient outcomes, safety, and acceptability of the automation, but need to deepen our understanding of its impact on the clinicians that the interventions are designed to support.
Our primary aim for this project is to examine the real-world impact of automation on the wellbeing of clinicians who provide healthcare to patients in high-volume, low-complexity perioperative care pathways. The study will focus on Dora (Ufonia, Oxford), the first UKCA-marked artificial intelligence (AI) driven automated clinical assistant. Dora can have clinical phone conversations with patients, with the first use cases focussing on perioperative care pathways such as cataract surgery. Patients simply receive a call and have a conversation – similar to one with a doctor or a nurse. It is well-suited for the relatively digitally disenfranchised populations who use most healthcare services. An automated system that is driven by AI, Dora can be continuously active without compromising performance, revolutionising healthcare delivery of repetitive tasks. Healthcare managers and clinical directors have shown huge enthusiasm for the deployment of Dora in their departments, and inbound demand is leading to rapid implementation.
The outcome of our research will be relevant to wider stakeholders in digital health technologies. Firstly, the results will inform organisations on factors to consider when adopting emerging technologies to maximise positive impact on clinician experience. Secondly, the knowledge generated will have a direct role in shaping the design of autonomous care systems that will inevitably play a role in addressing workforce crisis. Thirdly, patients will benefit from improvement in clinician wellbeing as this directly impacts the quality of care they receive. Importantly, participating in the study will increase engagement of clinicians during the process of implementing automation technologies.