Artificial Intelligence Impacting Medical Practices

We’re seeing a new wave of digital innovation and artificial intelligence intersect healthcare. New devices, apps and software already on the market can impact medical practices in positive ways. When thinking about integrating digital innovation, make sure it is providing a solution by either reducing costs; improving patient care; opening up new streams of revenue; and/or making workflows more efficient.

Remote Patient Monitoring
CMS unbundled code 99091, effective January 1, 2018, allowing reimbursement for remote monitoring. They are planning on expanding reimbursement for remote monitoring again next year. Once this becomes a standard of care over the next few years, the other payers will have no choice but to also reimburse for patient remote monitoring.

There are already a number of devices and digital tools on the market that allow medical practices to monitor their patients, from point of care diagnostics to remote data collection. Smart phones, trackers, the Apple iWatch, and point of care devices like AliveCor (EKG), Cellscope (ear monitoring), and Dexcom CGM (continuous glucose monitor) can gather clinical grade medical data from patients in the home. As a result, healthcare providers can analyze a patient’s vital statistics over time and in great detail.

When a patient’s heart rate and blood pressure are measured inside a medical office, they are subject to White Coat Syndrome, where a patient’s anxiety at being at the doctor’s office impacts their BP. In addition, a reading in a clinic is just one data point, taken at an irregular interval. Instead, having data taken at regular, defined intervals while the patient is sleeping, active, and going about their daily lives is much more helpful, and indicative of the patient’s average health. Remote monitoring data should make treatment plans more precise and effective, resulting in more satisfied patients with improved outcomes.

Apps that securely transmit health data from wearable devices like smartwatches are becoming more and more readily available. Companies like Doctella offer this kind of service, where it aggregates specific types of wearable tech data, and integrates it into an easy to read dashboard for both the patient and provider that alerts you only when something is outside pre-programmed ranges.

Among the most important attributes, remote monitoring can let a medical practice know as soon as a patient needs intervention. Thus, the practice can contact the patient immediately, bring the patient in for an appointment or virtual care visit, potentially avoiding a future hospitalization or ER visit.

AI Augmenting HCPs
One of the things that AI is best at is pattern recognition. It’s no surprise that we’ve seen a number of AI software programs granted FDA approval in the past 18+ months, mostly to augment the HCP with imaging: analyzing MRIs, echocardiograms, mammograms, CT scans and more. While most of these still require a trained human being to read the results, there has been one FDA approved software program that does not require a human to read the results. IDx-DR AI software diagnoses diabetic retinopathy, though it still requires an in-person clinic visit to administer the test, there is no need for a highly trained professional to read the test results.

AI programs make day-to-day office tasks considerably less laborious. For one thing, they can place phone calls to remind patients of their upcoming appointments and to follow up after office visits. They can automatically take care of many scheduling, billing, charting, accounting and auditing assignments as well. Companies like Cedar use AI to personalize the patient billing experience, help with patient engagement, as well as predict revenue cycles.

Voice Tools:
Recent advancements in natural language processing (NLP) has made Artificial Intelligence almost as good as a human at understanding spoken English. Microsoft announced last year that they had reached 5.1% error rate. What this means for medical practices is that AI Voice Transcription and Voice Search can be used to making life easier for anyone working with EMRs. Companies like eClinicalWorks have a voice activated bot that helps physicians pull up data in an EMR. iScribe automatically transcribes your voice to text in the EMR.

Artificial Intelligence is changing the way healthcare is experienced and delivered. Better tracking and more points of interaction create deeper relationships with patients, improving outcomes, and increasing practice revenues. AI tools can also outsource repetitive or time consuming tasks, leaving clinicians and staff more time with what matters: the patient.

© Robin Farmanfarmaian  All rights reserved.


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