3 ways a Louisiana system is integrating AI into clinical workflows

Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System has been using artificial intelligence to boost performance across its clinical and financial systems for years, but use of those tools is increasing at the Baton Rouge, La.-based organization.

"The pandemic was like jet fuel for the technology arm of the health system, where we pivoted within weeks to a telehealth platform as an example; it forced us to live in an uncomfortable zone," James Craven, MD, president of the health system's provider group, told Becker's.

Dr. Craven acknowledged that the health system's five-market footprint across Louisiana and Mississippi is not necessarily a technology hub, but its large provider group of more than 1,300 physicians and advanced practice providers necessitated investment in new technology that can reduce clinical burdens.

"As part of our brand to listen and to heal, you have to be present in the moment with the patient," Dr. Craven said. "We were looking for technology that would help us better achieve that."

"There are a lot of vendors in this space, so find a partner that you feel is going to work with you to innovate and meet your gaps and your burdens. At the end of the day, that's what's going to set them apart," Jenny Smith, senior director of digital health at the health system, said.

The health system said it has created an AI-powered lung nodule program, which overrides Epic's interpretations of all radiology reports in its system. Certain keywords in a report can trigger a multidisciplinary clinical team that will then go through a patient's chart and direct them to the most appropriate care. 

"This technology is allowing us to scan all the reads and identify people who could be at high risk of lung disease," Dr. Craven said. "We're flipping people who historically may have been diagnosed with lung disease at stage 3 and 4 into the stage 1 and 2 categories, therefore improving survivability."

Another endeavor where the system is integrating AI tools is diabetic retinopathy exams. The system placed several diabetic retinopathy cameras within some of its primary care clinics, which provides a real-time report of whether or not a patient has retinopathy. Any negative or insufficient results are then sent to a specialist to verify. 

For the last two years, 80 physicians at the health system have been using Suki, an AI-powered voice assistant that can integrate with EHR platforms, create physician notes, pull patient information and add ICD-10 codes. Anecdotally, the health system said the tool has had a positive effect on physician and patient satisfaction scores. 

"Where we are using it is having a significant impact, and now we're talking about how to scale it," Ms. Smith said. 

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