The tech Ochsner physicians hail as 'life-changing'

For the first time in a long time, Amy Trainor, RN, system vice president and CIO at New Orleans-based Ochsner Health, said she is hearing physicians say that a piece of technology is proving to be "life changing."

"The AI technology is huge. And we are implementing some really cool tools for our physicians to make their lives easier, with many of them saying that this is changing their life," Ms. Trainor told Becker's. "That is something that I haven't heard a physician say in quite some time, and I've been doing IT for 19 years. That's where we are today and I couldn't be happier." 

One way Ochsner is using AI is to help draft messages. Ms. Trainor said Ochsner has 2.1 million patients that are active in its patient portal. 

With this amount of patients comes a large amount of activity and large amounts of messages, which left some physicians feeling burnt out.

"Although other organizations began charging for patient messaging some time ago, we wanted to ensure we thought through other innovative tools to better manage messages," she said. "This tool works by creating a draft response to patient messages sent through the portal. Once the draft is created, a nurse or physician reviews it and enters their name at the end so it ensures that we have a human in the loop at all times."

More than 300 primary care physicians have gone live with the tool, and Ms. Trainor says feedback has been positive. 

"At first, they didn't realize how much time it was saving them until they started seeing how fast they were able respond to these messages in a more comprehensive way in less time," she said. 

Ochsner is looking to use AI in other ways, and is currently piloting it for chart summarization, pharmacy authorizations, image review for X-rays and scans, and applying AI to the financial side of the business. 

"I'm most excited about using AI in the financial space for coding, prioritization and collections," Ms. Trainor said. "And really just applying AI to the things that people do every day that maybe don't need a human, such as claims generation and authorizations. We should be using our resources for the critical thinking that needs to be done on the financial side, and automating whatever makes that work easier."

For Ms. Trainor, the potential of AI in healthcare is something she's "never seen before."

"The thought that we are taking technology from the public sector to healthcare in record time is something that I've never seen in my experience in healthcare IT," she said. "This is why it's such an exciting time. Any tools we can use to help providers and clinicians have more time to care for patients is something we as an industry should be thinking about."

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