A 'measurable' advantage: Why CMIOs from Mayo + 2 other systems are turning to AI, precision medicine

Artificial intelligence and precision medicine tools can provide a wide range of benefits, and health systems nationwide are using them for a multitude of reasons.

The tools can be a component in bringing clinicians' focus back to the bedside and away from their paperwork.

"We are about to embark upon AI coding [May 1] for the professional component of billing," Beth Kushner, DO, chief medical information officer of Paterson, N.J.-based St. Joseph's Health, told Becker's. "I look forward to showing how we can augment and make processes more efficient and give time back to the provider to be at the bedside."

As health systems struggle with retaining labor due to clinician burnout, some CMIOs turn toward technological advancement to take the administrative burden off clinicians. 

For Russell Cameron, MD, CMIO of DuBois, Pa.-based Penn Highlands Healthcare, his health system's adoption of Regard, an AI-powered software tool designed to help clinicians, has been paying dividends.

AI in the ER

Penn Highlands uses the technology to assist inpatient clinicians with assessment and diagnosis after a patient has been admitted from the emergency room.

"[Regard] would then create a problem list, which would be like 'diagnosis No. 1: congestive heart failure based on a rail found on the exam by the ER doctor and a lab result of X with hyperlinks to the where those results are, and chest X-ray findings of Y in a previous echo with ejection fraction, with hyperlinks,'" Dr. Cameron said.

"It searches through not just the current chart, and not just some of the discrete data, but also looks through some of the documentation and pulls together all this stuff, which would save time for the providers, not having to search for those numbers and potentially present diagnosis not considered."

The Regard program, which started developmentally, has been popular among Penn Highlands care providers. Several clinicians felt so strongly, they told Dr. Cameron they would leave should Penn Highlands eliminate the Regard program.

Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic is also using AI-based software to assist clinicians with the challenging transfer of patients from emergency medicine to inpatient care.

"We have incorporated many AI algorithms into our practice. One example is a prediction model for patients in the emergency department, early in their course, to identify those likely to require admission to the hospital," said Mayo Clinic CMIO Steve Peters, MD. "Patients may spend many hours in the ED, for diagnosis and treatment plan, referral to outpatient appointments, or for the decision to admit to the inpatient setting."

"This algorithm was developed with retrospective data but tested and validated with real-time clinical data, incorporated into our EHR, and presented in the workflow. The model can greatly facilitate patient triage," he continued. "The experience has highlighted the opportunities for collaboration between data science and applied clinical informatics."

Cost savings

Beyond the clinical benefits, the time-saving ability of AI and precision medicine tools can have enormous financial utility for providers. 

"At the initial evaluation, there was not just a positive return as far as productivity for the providers, but also a financial advantage to this, which was measurable," said Dr. Cameron, of Penn Highlands.

"The providers and hospitals will tell you that it saved them maybe 20 percent of their time in charting. They noticed a definite improvement. They actually enjoyed it to the point that whenever we started looking at all our software and evaluating them again to see which ones we might be able to eliminate for cost savings."

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