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Improving Patient Care with Enterprise AI and a Unified Healthcare Data Store

by Geoff Craig, Director, Solutions Services

Healthcare Data Storage
Healthcare Data Storage

Today we are in the age of digital Healthcare records and the emergence of Artificial Intelligence systems which when used together could drastically improve patient care. The current Healthcare age is about digital information, and this led to improvements and some negative side effects. A study published in the international Journal of Health Services noted that doctors spend 16.6 percent of their time on administrative tasks which included writing chart notes.1  Another study published in 2018 in BMJ Open notes that having the same primary care physician reduces patient mortality.2  The growth in data and research studies also tax physicians with a report in the Journal of the American Library Association showing that over 7,000 articles are published monthly in primary care journals.3  If a doctor read each of these articles they would average 20 hours of reading every day. If we take all of this into account, we can see two important trends. The first is that it is almost impossible for doctors to spend the amount of time needed to keep up with current research, administrative tasks and see patients. The second is that having the right information available and understanding a patient’s complete history is important. The term complete history is in bold because one of the current trends in Healthcare is that the data is siloed. This means that unless your doctors share information or use the same electronic medical records system (EMR) then your doctors have to depend on the patient to provide the necessary medical details. Most patients (myself included) do not have the medical skills necessary to give a doctor the complete picture of a patient’s health.

Fortunately, we have already seen where Artificial Intelligence (AI) could help doctors make decisions and therefore spend more time with patients. An article published by ResearchGate concludes that AI’s ability to read mammography images and detect anomalies can assist doctors by reducing the overall time burden of reading images.4  One of the core powers of AI is in assisting humans by learning patterns from data and the healthcare industry is full of data. This data could be used to help doctors understand the complete history of a patient with AI augmenting this data to provide useful insights. I will use myself as an example. I have three doctors that I see at least annually, my primary care doctor, an endocrinologist, and a neurologist. I am incredibly fortunate that my primary care doctor and my endocrinologist use the same EMR however my neurologist does not. I will vehemently argue with anyone that my primary care doctor and endocrinologist were able to find my thyroid cancer at an early stage because they shared the same EMR and it wasn’t up to me to take blood tests, case notes and scans between doctors using different EMR’s.

Given the current technologies available to share and store information and the value that information has not only for doctors but for patients and for Artificial Intelligence the time is now for all parties to create a Unified Healthcare Data Store (UHDS). The UHDS would allow doctors to not rely on patients to build a complete medical history but would stop the need to input medical records into multiple systems. This UHDS could power a plethora of Artificial Intelligence systems that could not only help doctors with intelligent data about a patient’s condition but could also help predict what conditions a patient could have in the future. As a patient can you imagine a day where a doctor could not only help you understand why you are experiencing symptoms today, but the doctor could also begin preventive medicine to help you from getting sick? Imagine how your health care experience could improve if AI could be built using the latest research by specialists in the fields of auto-immune disease and cancer research to help predict symptom cause and prevention and doctors could spend time focusing on you, the patient, instead of reading 20 hours a day?

The time has come for patients, doctors, researchers and information technology specialist to come together to tackle a problem that could help millions of people. There are issues that have to be overcome such as data privacy, data anonymization and data transfer and controls but these are issues that can be overcome. The new age of Healthcare powered by AI and a Unified Healthcare Data Store is here and now is the time to improve the health and wellness for everyone.

1.PHNP – Administrative work consumes one-sixth of U.S. physicians’ time and erodes their morale, researchers say: http://www.pnhp.org/news/2014/october/administrative-work-consumes-one-sixth-of-us-physicians%E2%80%99-time-and-erodes-their-mor

2.BMJ Open - Continuity of care with doctors—a matter of life and death? A systematic review of continuity of care and mortality: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/8/6/e021161

3.PubMed Central - How much effort is needed to keep up with the literature relevant for primary care?: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC521514/

4.ResearchGate: Doctors could soon spend less time looking at mammograms, thanks to artificial intelligence: https://www.researchgate.net/blog/post/artificial-intelligence-is-getting-even-better-at-reading-mammograms