Feature: AI

“We think it is inevitable that artificial intelligence will begin to play a bigger role in the pharmacy,” says Michael Wysong, CEO of CARE Pharmacies Cooperative.

Adds Peter Miles, manager of Hilton Family Pharmacy in Hilton, N.Y.: “When the switch happens and the computers start to apply data and come up with diagnosis or plans — well, that really can’t be that far ahead.”

Essentially, these next-generation AI wonders tap into the technology’s ability to do a lot of the thinking and strategizing for you. Of course, it’s always your call if you want to trust an entity whose heart literally beats with all the warmth of an Intel or similar multiprocessor. But if you’re curious about what the future of what business software will look like for pharmacists, here’s a sampling of what’s coming down the pike:

AI App Makers

You can start dabbling in artificial intelligence right now — and for free — with open source software like Datumbox. Targeted to businesses with one or more programmers on staff — or an extremely brave PC power user — Datum is an AI platform that enables you to design and build your own AI apps from scratch.

Specific tools you can create with Datumbox include:

  • AI Sentiment Analyzers: These tools enable you to unleash an app on the web, social media, and similar digital locations that will see what people are saying about your company and/or products and services — and also determine if the sentiments behind those posts are positive, negative, or neutral.
  • AI Text Readability Analysis: This tool can be used to ensure the marketing copy for your pharmacy business is extremely accessible — or conversely, appeals to a more discriminating audience.
  • AI Gender Analysis: Whether it’s soaring praise or withering criticism, this tool will enable you to determine who’s behind posts about your company — a man or a woman.

Similar software includes Lexalytics and Bitext.

AI Dashboard Maker

One of AI’s notable characteristics is its ability to retrieve data from all corners of the web and then package it in easy-to-understand graphic dashboards.

IBM Watson Artificial Intelligence   
While it’ll be a while before we all have an IBM Watson supercomputer atop our desks, there are a number of artificial intelligence business tools pharmacists can use right now that will help you run smarter, faster — and ahead of the competition.   

Qlik, for example, enables your pharmacy to develop AI dashboards that can monitor dozens, hundreds — or even thousands — of websites and/or web properties across cyberspace, and then bring back all that data for instant analysis.

With Qlik, you’ll be able to compare and contrast the performance of all your websites in terms of clicks, visits, purchases, successful calls to action, and more. Plus, the software promises to bring back associations and insights you may not have thought of to consider. Similar products include Metric Insights and Tableau.

AI Self-designing Websites

Grim fact — not all of us are da Vincis in the making. Fortunately, with Grid — an online service that will auto-design a website for your pharmacy — that doesn’t matter anymore, when it comes to designing your online business presence.

With Grid, you simply upload the content you want on your website — text, images, and video — and the service does the rest, placing everything just where it’s supposed to go. Once all your components are in place, you also have the ability to tweak the resulting design. You can get an in-depth look at how Grid works with its introductory video on YouTube. A similar online service is Wix.

AI Call Center Matchmaker

Any pharmacy business exec who has winced listening to a call center rep clashing with a customer will want to look into Afiniti.

Designed to find “birds of a feather” personality matches between your call center reps and your customers, Afiniti processes more than one billion calculations per second in its never-ending quest to sniff out the personality of anyone who happens to be calling your business.

Essentially, the AI software works by retrieving, storing, and analyzing psychographic and demographic data on customers across the United States, which it sources from the world’s identity data brokers, including Allant, Acxiom, Experian, Facebook, LinkedIn, and TARGUSinfo. Specific data that Afiniti is incessantly gobbling up includes income level, credit-card usage, profession, gender, telecommunication usage patterns, responsiveness to marketing, political persuasion, and travel habits.

Most likely, it also knows if your toenails need trimming.

Meanwhile, Afiniti analyzes the other side of the equation — the personalities of the call center reps at your pharmacy — by studying how your reps interact with customers over a 60-to-90-day period, and by crunching data from a 20-minute survey that you can administer to your call center reps when they’re first hired. The result: In a perfect world, you get a match made in bits-and-bytes heaven that hopefully will result in a better customer service experience and perhaps heavier sales.

AI Early Warning Lawsuit Alerter

When it comes to lawsuits, the only thing better than an attorney who strikes sheer terror in the opposition is one who can scope out potential lawsuits before they happen — and steer you clear of any trouble.

That’s the premise behind Intraspexion, ingenious lawsuit prevention software developed by seasoned attorney and company founder Nick Brestoff.

Nick Brestoff Intraspexion   
Intraspexion founder Nick Brestoff  

Intraspexion works by relentlessly analyzing every single email your employees send or receive from the outside world, and then studying those emails for telltale signs of trouble ahead. As soon as it finds an email it believes could be the start of an impending lawsuit, it instantly alerts your attorney or in-house counsel, requesting human intervention. According to Brestoff, Intraspexion’s accuracy had been verified by a third-party source at 99%.

Interestingly, Brestoff’s Intraspexion software is built on Google’s TensorFlow — a free, open source, deep-learning software developed by researchers and engineers on the Google Brain Team.

“TensorFlow is quickly becoming a viable option for companies interested in deploying deep learning,” says Rajat Monga, engineering leader at TensorFlow at Google.

Currently, Brestoff’s software — which is being pilot-tested by a New York Stock Exchange-level company — is only programmed to analyze employee emails for potential employee discrimination suits, simply because those suits are among the most common.

But Brestoff says he can easily rework his code for pharmacists to do the same kind of monitoring for breach-of-contract suits, fraud suits, and more than 150 other categories of lawsuits that businesses must dodge every day.

Concludes CARE Pharmacies Cooperative’s Wysong about the coming age of AI: “When you contemplate the role that artificial intelligence could play in improving preventative medicine, coupled with the expanded role of the pharmacist, any responsible provider would want to figure out new ways to deploy these technologies in the ultimate service of their patients and customers.” CT

Joe Dysart is an internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan. You can contact him at joe@joedysart.com. 

See a list of the websites in this article at ComputerTalk’s blog