HIMSS Conference 2023 Recap: AI is Transforming Patient Engagement

June 30, 2023

The 2023 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Global Health Conference & Exhibition brought together 30,000+ healthcare professionals for a week of educational programming and networking. Tech-focused sessions covered key topics like data interoperability, cybersecurity, and, to no one’s surprise, AI.

As AI’s popularity continues rising, the healthcare industry grapples with the ethical and practical applications of this technology. Several vendors, including tech giants Microsoft and Salesforce, announced AI-focused updates to their healthcare offerings, and multiple sessions discussed how AI can transform patient engagement.

AI shows promise for improving medical literacy and health equity

HIMSS23 sessions covered multiple use cases for embracing AI, ranging from revenue cycle management automation to accelerated radiology readings. 

What stood out the most? 

Utilizing generative AI (GAI) and large language models to turn complex medical jargon into digestible information for patients and the role that advanced AI can play in health outcomes for marginalized communities. 

Medical literacy

Microsoft hosted a panel discussion on “Transforming Healthcare with AI” that centered on practical uses for adopting AI in healthcare environments. Panelists stressed that it’s important for organizations to identify actual problems that AI may solve for them and then focus on small, incremental adoption. 

Hypothetical applications included using AI to translate jargony after-care summaries and lab reports into an understandable format for patients and to provide responses to commonly asked questions. 

In a similar vein, conversational AI tools can help triage patients and engage them throughout a continuum of care, reducing the burden on staff. Panelists cautioned that these examples rely on AI models being ethically and accurately trained, and that patients may be skeptical of receiving medical advice from such tools. 

In time, innovations like this can eliminate barriers caused by medical illiteracy. Patients that understand their health records may be more willing to trust and engage with their healthcare provider and ask the appropriate questions, and therefore feel empowered in managing their health.

Health equity

In another session, Health Catalyst Chief Medical Officer Dr. Melissa Welch, MPH, presented on AI’s use in bridging health disparities, particularly among marginalized populations. 

Patient engagement is evolving to meet the digital front-door healthcare trend, which utilizes an omnichannel communication strategy to meet patients where they are and tailor outreach accordingly. This includes consistent messaging, relevant educational touchpoints, and the use of remote monitoring wearable technology. 

AI tools bolster patient engagement by processing patient data and social determinants of health (SDOH) to predict risk scores for patients, helping providers prevent readmissions. In particular, this usage has helped organizations address mortality rates for pregnant patients and reduce postpartum illnesses. By expanding this approach, providers can keep patients engaged more predictably and promote health literacy.

Tech giants lead by example, embracing AI 

Microsoft shared updates to their Azure AI Services for Health offerings, which include:

  • Oncology Phenotype, which allows healthcare providers to rapidly identify key attributes of a cancer within their patient populations with an existing cancer diagnosis and infer confidence scores.
  • Clinical Trial Matcher, designed to match patients to potentially suitable clinical trials or find a group of potentially eligible patients to a list of clinical trials.
  • A new Azure Health Bot template that enables users to integrate Azure OpenAI Service into their own Health Bot.
  • Added support in Azure’s Text Analytics for Health to include ethnicity data and SDOH, which helps providers understand the impact of social factors on health outcomes.

Salesforce also announced updates to their Health Cloud product, which include:

  • Home Health: Automates the intake and scheduling process for in-home treatment using scheduling workflows to convert prior authorizations into scheduled visits based on patient preferences.
  • Data Cloud for Healthcare: Connects and activates both clinical and non-clinical data from a variety of sources, and, with Einstein Predictions layered in, care teams can leverage data insights from similar groups to better understand a patient’s health insights.
  • Patient Contact Center: Features like Action Launcher let agents automate workflows to serve patients faster, while Einstein Article Recommendations provides call center agents with AI-surfaced recommendations based on common topics patients most frequently need help with—like insurance coverage and existing claims.
  • MuleSoft Direct for Health Cloud: Provides out-of-the-box, FHIR-aligned connectors to access EHR data, allowing a hospital’s non-clinical team to leverage this data to submit prior authorization requests to help patients get insurance approval for procedures more quickly.
  • Tableau Accelerators for Health Cloud: Provides ready-to-use, intelligent dashboards for a variety of use cases, including referral analytics, risk analytics, and insights to reduce no shows.

Can healthcare organizations justify the AI investment? 

Patient engagement software that boasts AI-powered features can dramatically reduce administrative task loads for healthcare staff and improve patient-provider relationships. 

How long do buyers have to wait for that payoff, though? 

More than 60% of G2.com users that reviewed a patient engagement product over the last 24 months responded that they achieved return on investment (ROI) within 12 months or less. However, the average reported ROI is 16.42 months.


As organizations begin to assess how AI might fit into their current tech stack, new patient engagement software may not be the first choice. Identifying pain points in their current systems will help decide where and how AI can be utilized. 

Like Microsoft’s HIMSS panelists stressed: adopting AI for AI’s sake will not be useful; rather, organizations should identify a specific, manageable project that AI can realistically address.

Patient Engagement Software ➜

Where is patient engagement headed?

Let’s state the obvious first: AI is not replacing our doctors anytime soon. Rather, these latest AI-powered innovations that Salesforce, Microsoft, and other healthcare vendors are launching speak to the potential this technology has to help providers improve health outcomes. 

The healthcare industry still has to define the ethical, compliant, and practical applications of AI, but we can expect to see way more product innovations coming out as vendors push the boundaries of what’s possible.

Edited by Shanti S Nair

HIMSS Conference 2023 Recap: AI is Transforming Patient Engagement AI was center stage at the 2023 HIMSS conference, with vendors like Salesforce and Microsoft announcing new product capabilities for patient engagement. https://learn.g2.com/hubfs/patient%20engament%20HIMMS-DD.jpg
Dominick Duda Dominick is a Senior Research Analyst at G2 specializing in nonprofit software, with other vertical industry coverage including healthcare, government, and hospitality. Prior to joining G2, he spent years in the nonprofit sector as a fundraiser and grant writer, and he is deeply invested in understanding how nonprofits can make better use of the technology available to them. In his free time, he enjoys video games, museums, and reading and writing poetry. https://learn.g2.com/hubfs/dominick-duda-v2.jpg https://www.linkedin.com/in/dominickduda/