Robots in your ambulance. Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the Oncology unit.  A short-term stay facility where the building itself is the technology.  A machine intelligence that reduces patient fall rates by 30%.  It’s the world of tomorrow — today.  Robots and AI in healthcare are the new normal, and their usage is just at the beginning point.

Robots and AI in Healthcare Advancing Rapidly

Already Doctors are being aided by robots and artificial intelligence.

In March, HIMSS18 in Las Vegas, had a focus on “how AI and machine learning algorithms will advance the grand vision of a learning health system.” The aim of the workshops will be to, review cutting through the hype and “demystifying what have long been considered space-age or sci-fi technologies to determine the realistic state of the industry and, indeed, moving AI out of the dark.”

The “Advisory Board“, a healthcare best practices firm, reports on how one facility is wired for healthcare intelligence.  “At Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center you might consider the building itself as technology,” says Brett Simon, director of Sloan Kettering’s new surgery center. The short-stay facility uses technology to help patients recover from surgery more quickly. Real-time locating tools allow clinicians to see how often a patient is walking, which helps them assess the patient’s recovery timeline and progress toward rehab goals.  In the coming months, Sloan Kettering also plans to release a smartphone app that will allow patients to send secure texts and photo messages to their providers. Staff can then reach out to patients whom they consider at risk of an adverse event.”

Hospitals are increasingly utilizing artificial intelligence to treat and proactively protect patients. US News reports that “just six months after El Camino Hospital in Silicon Valley implemented artificial intelligence technology, the rate at which patients suffered dangerous falls dropped 39 percent. The key, alongside additional fall prevention strategies, was a software program that predicts which individuals are most likely to fall by combing over electronic health records for risk factors and merging the data discovered there with real-time tracking of patients.”

Big data is another area where machine AI excels.  An article in HealthcareITNews lays out the convergence of AI and what a VP at Chilmark Research calls the “Learning Health System”.

“Learning Health Systems continually improve by collecting data and processing it to inform better decision making. As the amount and complexity of big data continues to increase, organizations are challenged to fully take advantage of it,” said Kenneth Kleinberg, Vice President at Chilmark Research. “AI systems are particularly suited to analyze huge data sets to discover meaningful and actionable insights, and even to carry out actions.”

Robots and AI in Healthcare

Watson is just one example of robots and AI in healthcare.

Enter IBM’s “Watson”.  In addition to beating Jeopardy pros and dazzling members of Congress, this machine and it’s associated AI have been working hard in healthcare on services including:

  • Identifying novel drug targets and identifying indications for existing drugs
  • Supporting government agencies in their work to deliver health and human services
  • Bringing confident decision-making to oncology with evidence-backed cancer care to each patient, by understanding millions of data points
  • Using “Care Manager to help organizations unlock and integrate the full breadth of information from multiple systems and care providers, automate care management workflows, and scale to meet the demands of growing populations under management.”

The HealthIT.gov blog sums up the current healthcare landscape for AI and hints at the promise of it getting hold of all data. “The rapid digitization of health data through the use of health information technology (health IT) in the United States has created major opportunities in the use of AI. Innovators and experts see potential in using digital health data to improve healthcare and health outcomes from the home to the clinic to the community. Yet, current AI is powered and limited by its access to digital data. With a range of health-related datasets, AI could potentially help improve the health of Americans.”

A related report (PDF – 69 pages) gives a few more details in its executive summary about expected advance of robots and AI in healthcare :

“This study centers on how computer-based decision procedures, under the broad umbrella of artificial intelligence (AI), can assist in improving health and healthcare. Although advanced statistics and machine learning provide the foundation for AI, there are currently revolutionary advances underway in the sub-field of neural networks. This has created tremendous excitement in many fields of science, including in medicine and public health. First demonstrations have already emerged showing that deep neural networks can perform as well as the best human clinicians in well-defined diagnostic tasks. In addition, AI-based tools are already appearing in health-oriented apps that can be employed on handheld, networked devices such as smartphones.”

Apps indeed.  One such recent app introduction was covered recently in HealthCareITNews, about an Israeli company, “Viz.ai, which has offices in Tel Aviv and San Francisco, has developed what it says is a new AI-enabled approach to stroke care that can automatically analyze brain CTs, detecting suspected large vessel occlusions and notifying clinicians when they occur.  Viz.ai calls it a direct-to-intervention system, and it applies deep learning algorithms to help automate the identification of such occlusions, which are responsible for the most serious strokes. The technology can help get a stroke specialist involved in the care of a patient earlier than with more conventional means of detection, officials say.”

At The SSI Group, we’re watching the advance of robots and AI in healthcare with our hospital clients and keeping an eye on how this all will impact the revenue cycle.  As we continue to upgrade our own analytics solution, we believe that AI will soon have a role in the Revenue Cycle and will keep you posted.