Applying Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare: Focusing on Outcomes versus Architecture

By Pranam Ben

There is a lot of buzz right now around artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning—and the value of these next generation solutions in healthcare. Unfortunately, the increased attention is causing some confusion, and many providers remain unclear as to how to apply these applications to day-to-day operations. Part of the problem is that organizations are intimidated by the technology, focusing too much on how it works as opposed to appreciating the potential impacts it can have on the patient experience.

As entities get bogged down by the nuances, they can lose sight of the bigger picture—what the technology can accomplish at the point of care and how it can transform patient outcomes.

A useful yet approachable application

While this industry hype may have some providers hesitant to take on this burgeoning capability, not all AI-enabled solutions are out of reach. Take our own Blaze Speaks, for example—an intelligent browser assistant that delivers real-time information to providers during the patient encounter. This technology—although complex from an engineering stand point – is simplistic for the end user and can positively affect patient outcomes, improving quality, reducing waste and limiting duplication.

The tool sits on top of an organization’s electronic health record and offers critical information to providers from inside and outside of the EHR—all without a provider having to log into multiple portals. By clicking on the browser icon, providers can drill down into internal and external data, getting a fuller picture of a patient’s care and health conditions.

Blaze Speaks can also suggest information that is relevant during the patient appointment. Let’s say a physician is seeing a woman for her annual check-up and is reviewing her health history. Blaze will notify the provider that the patient went to the emergency department when she was visiting her daughter in Florida last month. Through the technology, the doctor can retrieve all the details of what prompted the visit and what the outcomes and discharge instructions were.

This information-gathering is done automatically, without having to rely on the patient remembering to mention the event to the provider. Before the physician refers the patient to a specialist to address the issue that sent her to the ER, he also notes through Blaze that she has seen a similar provider in the last six months, and that it is time for a follow-up. The physician can remind the patient to go back to the specialist instead of having her start the whole process over again, which can be both time consuming and an unnecessary step. Blaze also points out that one of the patient’s medications is available in generic form, which could turn out to be a cheaper option as it costs less out-of-pocket. Not only does sharing this information potentially reduce the financial burden on the patient, it reinforces that the healthcare organization cares about her and has her best interests in mind.

Even better, this AI application isn’t an untouchable future goal, the technology and capabilities are available now and can easily integrate within providers current processes, EHRs and other tools, automatically and immediately improving patient lives. Blaze Speaks was designed to be seamless and non-intrusive.

The technology will evolve but the benefits are available now

Like any transformative technology, the industry will need to weather several AI iterations before these solutions become mainstream. That said, by focusing on the outcomes these tools can achieve—even on a small scale—organizations can better appreciate the value artificial intelligence and machine learning offer as building blocks to higher quality, more efficient care.

As The Garage continues to invest in AI and other resources to help your organization improve care and value, this post is just the first of many to come as we head into 2019 exploring this burgeoning area of opportunity for healthcare organizations. Stay tuned for more insights and discussions from our thought leaders here at The Garage that will uncover more opportunities for applying AI in healthcare.

To learn more about the newest version of Blaze and how you can incorporate artificial intelligence into your workstream, contact The Garage at info@thegaragein.com.