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It’s both a challenging and exciting time to be hiring in healthcare. There’s never been so much pressure to hire candidates quickly—or so many technologies that say they can help. AI recruitment is one such option.

Let’s take a look at how AI recruitment actually works in healthcare and how to know if it’s worth your money and time. 

What Is AI Recruiting?

Essentially, artificial intelligence is any technology that replicates human-like thought. AI is able to do things that traditionally only humans could do, like having a conversation or picking up on someone’s mood. 

AI uses qualitative data, like images, videos, conversations, and text to make decisions. It can then study this data, look for patterns, and take action based on what it finds.

Sometimes, AI is used in recruiting to screen candidates quickly. But whether or not it will actually help your process depends on your specific needs. 

AI Recruitment Terms to Understand

Here are just a few examples of how AI recruitment works. 

Natural Language Processing

Natural language processing (NLP) helps computers understand spoken and written language. In recruiting, NLP can be used to create complicated chatbots, which can keep a conversation going with a potential candidate. More straightforward chatbots that use multiple choice and preprogrammed answers usually don’t need AI.

Candidate Success Predictions

Because AI learns from studying existing data, it’s possible for it to find patterns in applications from candidates who later became successful employees. 

AI can’t yet understand the full complexity of a person, and it can’t make 100% accurate predictions. In worst-case situations, Since AI looks for patterns, it is possible it can benefit similar candidates and penalize diversity. Some employers use AI predictions to verify that they’re making good hiring decisions. In general, using AI to validate or streamline decisions is safer than letting it make decisions on its own. 

Sentiment Analysis

Sentiment analysis is AI’s way of understanding emotion. After studying a pool of data, AI can analyze a profile or a conversation, and try to identify the underlying tone. Recruiters can use this to weed out candidates who seem to have a negative tone. 

Sentiment analysis isn’t foolproof. It is more complicated and more expensive than a human’s judgement. Since emotion is subjective, it’s also hard to measure exactly how accurate sentiment analysis is. Like most aspects of AI, sentiment analysis works best when it’s closely watched by a real person. 

What Isn’t AI Recruiting?

It’s really easy to confuse AI with other kinds of technology. AI and automation are closely connected and often overlap. Adding to the confusion, marketing teams sometimes refer to technology as AI when really, another term would be more accurate. The term “AI” has certain connotations that businesses might want to tap into, suggesting that technology is futuristic and advanced. 

But let’s get some clarity. AI uses data that’s hard to organize and understand. By contrast, anything that’s based on data that can be easily organized by specific rules is not AI. 

Here’s an example. Say you’re trying to sort candidates into two categories: people who live in Austin and people who live in Houston.

Because these two groups are objective and exact, a computer could easily look for the words Austin and Houston and sort candidates accordingly. In this case, all you need is automation. 

But maybe you’re trying to organize candidates into more complicated categories: for instance, polite people and rude ones. There are lots of ways to be rude or polite, so it would be very hard to divide everyone along these lines with just a few pre-programmed rules. You’d need AI’s more complex understanding of data.

Here are a few more examples of recruiting tasks that do not require AI:

  • Collecting information from resumes
  • Flagging resumes that contain specific keywords
  • Automatically communicating with candidates at specific moments in the recruitment process
  • Sorting candidates based on tasks they completed, their responses to pre-programmed screening questions, or their application status

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Choosing Between AI and Automation

Recruitment tools that use AI or automation will likely help you move through your workflow rapidly, reduce your time-to-fill, and improve the candidate experience by ensuring you’re sending timely messages.

So, what makes AI or automation the right choice? Here are a few reasons employers might prefer one recruiting technology over another.

Why Choose AI?

The biggest feature that differentiates AI is that it can learn over time. This can be helpful to employers who are making difficult decisions about what candidates to hire. An AI algorithm can help assure employers they’re making the right choice.

AI also offers a cultural benefit. Many people see AI as high-tech and advanced, which may appeal to job seekers who are looking for a cutting-edge work environment. 

Why Choose Automation?

Automated recruiting has many of the same benefits as recruitment AI: faster hiring, streamlined communication, and easier employer branding. It’s also typically much more affordable.

The fact that automation doesn’t learn or attempt to improve its performance can also be a benefit. Because automation only does precisely what it’s programmed to do, it won’t adopt biases or change how it operates. While both technologies need oversight, if automation breaks, the results will probably be less dramatic than if AI goes wrong.

Risk of AI Recruiting for Healthcare

Learned Biases

Algorithmic bias is a real concern. It’s one of the great ethical challenges of AI in healthcare recruiting. Because AI can study and learn from data, it can absorb (and then perpetuate) bias. One study from Harvard Business Review, for example, found that 85% of Facebook’s targeted ads for cashier jobs were shown to women. Meanwhile, 75% of jobs for taxi drivers were shown to Black users. 

Biased algorithms already perpetuate medical racism. In 2019, an algorithm used by Optum, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, was shown to dramatically underestimate Black patients’ pain. The algorithm tried to identify patients who needed extra care based on their past medical costs. But less money was spent on Black patients, for social and financial reasons unrelated to medical needs. As a result, the algorithm severely undercounted the Black patients who needed care. A report from Science Magazine estimated that if the algorithm had been accurate, the number of Black patients who received extra care would have more than doubled.

Cost to Implement and Maintain

The cost to implement AI varies hugely depending on features and functionality. Building, implementing, and maintaining a custom chatbot can cost a couple thousand dollars a month, while a totally customized AI package can be in the hundreds of thousands. For some users, this will pay off. But it’s a good reason to pause and consider whether AI is really the solution you need, or if another technology would make more sense.

AI is Not Hands-Free

While the idea of “set it and forget it” when it comes to AI recruiting is certainly appealing, it’s not currently realistic. AI generally needs someone watching it, both to keep an eye out for algorithmic bias and to make sure that it’s operating correctly. AI reduces some forms of labor while also introducing new ones. 

Is AI Recruitment Right For Your Business?

AI recruitment can be tremendously helpful for some, but it’s not the right choice for all. 

For AI to pay off, you’ll need:

  • The budget to implement it
  • The development resources and bandwidth to monitor it 
  • The IT/Dev support to make sure it’s functioning properly

Most importantly of all, you’ll need a recruiting process that would actually benefit from AI. If you make hiring decisions based largely on culture fit and attitude, NLP and sentiment analysis might be just what you need. But if you’re in a situation where you’re likely to hire anyone who has the correct qualifications, AI probably isn’t necessary. In this case, automation technology is likely a more appropriate and affordable option.

Automated Recruitment With Apploi

Apploi is on a mission to help healthcare recruit, hire, and manage talent more successfully. We help employers find and engage applicants through automated job post distribution, unlimited texts and emails, and fully integrated onboarding. 

Interested in learning more about how you can recruit, hire, and onboard healthcare staff with automated workflows? Contact us today for a free demo of our talent management solution.

Jenny Ortiz

Jenny Ortiz is a strategic marketer with over 15 years of experience in creative, marketing, and advertising. She specializes in developing best-in-class solutions around media diversification, employer brand, candidate journeys, and engagement in order to help healthcare companies attract top talent. Outside of the office, she is an advanced open water scuba diver and a lover of international travel, and enjoys spending quality time with friends and family.