Jul 16, 2018

Focus on the important stuff

This is the second in a series of articles exploring the main challenges and benefits of the application of AI in the healthcare context.



Using AI to improve performance

Back in 2001 when the US Institute of Medicine (IOM) brought out its report on health care quality “Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century” expectations were high. The IOM report advocated for a fundamental redesign of the U.S. healthcare system, reflecting the main priorities: providing patients access to the right healthcare at the right time. This IOM report and subsequent publications have helped to transform an industry not only in the USA but worldwide. Nowadays, most healthcare organizations have designed and maintained a robust performance monitoring system, using Key Performance Indicators, measuring performance and reporting achievements and areas for improvement. Many of these performance measurement systems reflect the priorities set by the Crossing the Quality Chasm report. 

In this article, we will look at how AI can help organizations ‘cross the chasm’ by looking at new research evidence and emerging AI solutions.

Clinical Decision Support

Giving clinicians access to the best and most up to date medical evidence is a prerequisite to delivering high-quality care. However, the speed, as well as the amount of new research that is available to clinicians, continues to expand. IBM’s Watson technology deploys natural language processing which allows computers to process written information. For example, Watson for Oncology allows oncologists to access existing medical literature alongside patient data to support the treatment planning process.

Patient Experience

Similarly, natural language processing is used to detect signals from the noise contained in messy data feeds taken from social media sources. A new study, published in the BMJ, found a positive association between feedback that patients and their families share on social media and subsequent inspection outcomes in the UK. In other words, at a relatively low cost, healthcare organizations can now get real-time, meaningful insights about the patient experience and benchmark their performance. 

Patient Safety

Errors in medication administration are one of the most common types of adverse event. However, many errors are preventable and the World Health Organization has recently launched a worldwide campaign to reduce avoidable medication-associated harm by 50%.  Currently, there are numerous AI tools that use image recognition to prevent medication administration errors by scan medication, recognizing size, shape etc and matching this information with the patient’s prescribed treatment plan. 

Since its publication, Crossing the Quality Chasm has helped the healthcare industry to focus on what’s important: providing high-quality care at a sustainable price. What the original authors could perhaps not have foreseen was that in the intervening 15+ years since its publication, an AI revolution has taken place. The challenge now for all healthcare professionals is to use the new technology in order to bridge the gap between the current and desired state.




The AI Journey (A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step) 


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