How AI Will Transform The Healthcare Industry

Macadamian Technologies | October 26, 2021 | 4 Min Read

Clinical artificial intelligence is helping transform healthcare by offering preventative solutions to support patients with chronic conditions. It’s also offering support for patients dealing with overdoses and suicidal ideation.

It’s a sobering number.

Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 41 percent of Americans showed signs of anxiety, PTSD, substance abuse, and depression—all stemming from the pandemic.

It isn’t surprising that mental health professionals have warned us of the “second pandemic” associated with COVID-19. This secondary pandemic is adding a greater burden to the healthcare system, which has been reeling from the onslaught of the virus.

While this double hit from the pandemic may seem insurmountable, healthcare is already beginning to implement tech-savvy solutions to help with addressing this challenge.

Clinical artificial intelligence (AI), which involves the use of machines and computer systems to help with tasks initially conducted by humans, is helping to transform healthcare. In doing so, clinical AI is helping support patients with an array of health-related challenges. Here’s how.

Suicide And Overdose Prevention

For many, the pandemic has ushered in an era of isolation, economic struggle, stress and anxiety. In the U.S. alone, nearly 90,000 people died from overdoses over a 12-month period that ended in September 2021.

Currently, University of Florida (UF) researchers are developing a clinical AI tool to help identify patients as high risk for overdoses. The tool will use data from a patient’s electronic medical record to guide clinicians to effectively prescribe opioid medications.

When fully developed, the new clinical tool will be piloted at three UF health primary care clinics. That’s where researchers will study the tool’s usability and accessibility among other factors.

The tool will be integrated into a patient’s electronic health records. It will directly provide clinicians with warning signs and risk mitigation strategies to prevent a potential overdose. The university is expected to create a dashboard that will allow clinicians access to a patient’s information in real time.

“If we can more accurately identify patients who are at a high risk for opioid use disorder and overdose, then we can better allocate resources and provide timely and targeted interventions” said UF Pharmacy Professor, Wei-Hsuan “Jenny” Lo-Ciganic, while speaking to the school.

Clinical AI is also being used to support behavioral health providers, who like all clinicians, have been overwhelmed amid the pandemic. Clinical AI can support these providers by allowing them to better predict which patients are at risk of suicide or an overdose, all through the strategic use of data.

Because suicide is influenced by a variety factors, including psychosocial, economic and cultural to name a few, it is often hard to determine risk. Clinical AI, however, is being used to explore and better predict risk factors in patients through the data housed in their electronic health records.

A few years back, Vanderbilt University developed a clinical AI model that predicted suicide risk with 84 to 92 percent accuracy within one week of a suicide event. Since then, clinical AI modeling has gotten more accurate.

How AI Will Transform The Healthcare Industry

Clinical AI And Preventative Healthcare

Clinical AI is also helping transform healthcare through a shift from being reactive to preventative in our healthcare system’s approach to patient care.

We’re at a point where clinical AI can listen to a single heartbeat and determine whether a patient is on the brink of heart failure with 100 percent accuracy.

This is helping transform healthcare. It allows clinicians to use preventative measures in keeping patients healthy rather than dealing with the fallout of a health-related challenge.

But prevention wasn’t always the norm in healthcare due to a lack of advanced technology. Today, however, clinical AI can listen to the rhythm of the human body and figure out whether something is wrong, before it’s too late.

Currently, preventative medicine and services makes up roughly three percent of healthcare spend in the U.S. Majority of healthcare spend is associated with treatments for chronic conditions.

But clinical AI is changing that by placing emphasis on detection and prevention of acute events. Preventative care is also a lot cheaper than pricey ER visits or long-term hospital admissions.

Healthcare Transformation and Clinical AI

Clinical AI offers unlimited potential to transform healthcare. The technology is expected to have a significant impact in preventing acute health events in patients who suffer from chronic ailments. It’s also supporting patients dealing with challenges around overdoses and suicidal ideation.

Clinical AI will be a key value add to the healthcare industry as we go forward.

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