Algorithms could improve primary care, but only if they are safe

Primary care has the ability to be transformed through the application of automated algorithms, but this requires building automated clinical processes that are safe, feasible and transparent, Harvard Business Review reported May 6.

Six ways to ensure algorithms can reach their full potential in primary care:

  1. An automated clinical process must always be driven by safety.

  2. Assessing a patient's participation in an automated process should be limited to maximize safety. Patients with uncomplicated conditions will be more likely to qualify for automated processes, while those with more complex needs will need to be managed through traditional clinician-intensive pathways.

  3. Patients should be able to choose if they would like to be a part of the automated process.

  4. The automated nature of the decision-making process needs to be disclosed to patients in order for them to facilitate a choice best suited for their care.

  5. There should be an opportunity for patients to "tell the algorithm" their personal preferences for treatment.

  6. Clinical processes can be fully or partially automated. 

Automation has the ability to play a crucial role in transforming primary care, as it can ensure clinical quality, enhanced operational efficiency and accelerate the pace of innovation, according to the article. But, the biggest challenge for the healthcare industry is making sure the implementation is done well.

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