The Role of Artificial Intelligence In Healthcare

Artificial intelligence is no longer a remote dream that exists only in sci-fi movies, it is a common solution that people use in their everyday lives. From more standardized artificial intelligence solutions like Apple’s Siri to driverless cars, the possibilities for artificial intelligence today are almost endless. Artificial intelligence is set to have a huge impact on every industry in existence, and healthcare is no exception. With a wide variety of innovations being made today, the future of healthcare can be predicted by looking at the healthcare applications of AI.

Clinical Decision Support Platforms

According to medical market research, AI, advanced analytics, and the increased volume of patient care data make the possibility of clinical decision support platforms a strong possibility in the near future. Artificial intelligence and analytics solutions are already being used to improve clinical and operational processes. Using artificial intelligence combined with EHRs allows for improving decision-making and increased productivity rates.

Intelligent Robotic Surgeons

Advancements in cloud computing, big data analytics, and AI have hugely increased the possibilities for the use of robotics in all walks of life. Robotics has been used in surgery before, but it is still far from reaching its full potential. There are many companies that are working at the moment to develop intelligent surgical robots. Although robots in the operating room working alone still seem like a distant future, the possibilities and building blocks are being formed today.

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Outcome-Based Healthcare’s Data Ownership Challenge

Joe Gaska

By Joe Gaska, CEO, GRAX.

Healthcare is highly regulated when it comes to data security and privacy, and rightly so. Patient data is ultra-sensitive and any changes made to records could literally cost someone their life. Regulations from HIPAA to U.S. Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Part 11, stipulate the need to exercise best practices in IT to keep electronic patient data safe, which is why legacy healthcare technology vendors like Cerner and Epic are so focused on guarding against unauthorized access and cyber attacks.

As more and more providers transform to outcome-based healthcare models, however, the ability to minimize risk of data exposure is getting harder to do. That’s because, in order to increase efficiencies and optimize patient care, organizations are increasingly introducing cloud-based, or SaaS, applications into their processes. They leverage these applications to analyze data and get insights related to patient journeys, treatment pathways, the cost of care delivery and even the efficacy of various medical devices.

The compliance challenge

While this is essential to do, it also complicates regulatory compliance since it requires moving or copying data from your infrastructure into other applications. Every time a new application is introduced, healthcare organizations essentially need to get that vendor to sign a BAA (Business Associate Agreement) to accept responsibility for the safety of patients’ health information and maintain appropriate safeguards. Yet even with an agreement in place, organizations are still at risk. HIPAA and other compliance measures require audit trails, which are more difficult to maintain with SaaS applications.

In addition, because users need SaaS data for analytic and other purposes, they’re likely to download, make their own copies and store it in their own folders and systems. This data sprawl increases potential access points and vulnerabilities.

All of which begs the question, how can organizations help protect sensitive data while still leveraging that data in a way that works to improve outcomes? The answer lies in data ownership.

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Key Features For Pharmacy Delivery App

By Natalie Tkachenko, healthcare software solutions consultant, NIX United.

Natalie Tkachenko

The increasing number of online pharmacy retailers emphasize growing consumer inquiry for address delivery. More and more polls show that the cost of such delivery is the greatest concern for both consumers and suppliers.

Such trends have resulted in an expansion of mobile apps usage for prescription drugs. The chronic conditions patients like diabetes, heart, kidney or liver diseases, or HIV infections rely on pharmacy services that provide continuous prescriptions renewals and deliver to patients’ homes.

Market Overview of Pharmacy Delivery Apps

In 2023, we expect the pharmacy delivery market to reach 6.4% CAGR for the forecast period up to 1,694.7 billion dollars. Besides the growth of chronic diseases patients that require ongoing medicine supply, there are such major factors as

technological progress and new products release.

Especially since the beginning of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic boosted medicine delivery needs to reach an unprecedented level. Implementing such an opportunity into your online drugs retailer may force the business growth. Furthermore, the pharmacy delivery applications must provide the right information about the medicine and accurately distinguish drugs.

In 2021, online pharmacy retailers are a great solution to make medicine available to patients while maintaining social distance.

Advantages of Pharmacy Delivery Services

There is a study that shows that patients with chronic diseases that order medicine from online retailers show better adherence than those who buy them in local pharmacies. One of the reasons for such behavior may lay in that fewer patients with low economic status may order from online retailers.

Also, the process of treatment is made much easier by pre-sorted medicine delivered to the door. Added instruction on how to properly take medicine by hours or days facilitates the process of treatment.

Among the benefits of pharmacy delivery apps is the possibility to set the convenient time of delivery. It may come in handy for patients that despite disease have a busy lifestyle.

That also could be a plus for elder people for whom it is hard to wait in a line at a drugstore. A courier may deliver medicine when the nursemaid will be available to accept it.

Advanced technologies make sure that you receive the precise drugs and dosages. Thus, the risk of adverse effects and hospitalization can be lowered. Whereas wrong medication puts dying from wrong treatment in 8th place among causes of death in the U.S. According to the study, the error rate for delivering medicines to pharmacies was about 1 for every 50 prescriptions written (or 1.72%), the error rate for delivering medicines was less than 1 for every 1000 prescriptions (or only 0.075%).

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How AI Can Help Pharma Companies Safeguard Patients’ Personal Identifiable Information

By Amit Garg, vice president of analytics, Gramener.

Amit Garg

The advent of the pandemic and more recent vaccination efforts means there’s never been a time where more people’s Personal Identifiable Information (PII) and Personal Health Information (PHI) in health records and medical documentation are in circulation. It’s vital to protect patients’ PII and PHI, which can include information on their age, race, or medical history, especially given that cyberthreats and fraudulent activity related to the Covid-19 vaccine are increasing.

With so much patient and clinical trial data being stored and shared at any given time, it’s becoming increasingly challenging for pharmaceutical companies to efficiently ensure that patient information is protected. Experts say that medical data is up to 50 times more valuable than credit card data.

Here’s where artificial intelligence comes into play: AI and machine learning (ML) solutions can not only automatically identify what information is classed as PII in a given record, but it can also then automatically redact or anonymize that data to make sure that no adversary can identify the patients.

Joining the dots with AI

AI algorithms use advanced methods such as entity detection, entity extraction, and entity-relationship management to handle patients’ PII and PHI from a given document. This involves identifying and categorizing key information in the text using Named Entity Recognition (NER), a form of Natural Language Processing (NLP).

Useful libraries for teams using NER include Stanford NER, spaCy’s EntityRecognizer, CliNER (a domain-specific NER tool that has been trained on clinical texts), or BioBERT (a domain-specific language representation model pre-trained on large-scale biomedical corpora).

NER works to safeguard PII in the context of healthcare by identifying different elements of a single patient’s PII across multiple health records. In one document the name and age may be present, and in another, age and race may be present but not the name, while in another religion and race, and so on.

Any hacker with access to each document and each data point would be able to join the dots to match all PII to the single person. To prevent this, an intelligent entity detection and extraction solution can identify this information across the documents and redact and anonymize the correct data to prevent reidentification of the patient.

If the solution is not able to de-identify (or redact) the information completely, it will score the subjects based on the probability of re-identification. The publication would then know the risk in advance and take the appropriate action, i.e., to assume the risk and publish or to not publish until specific confidence is reached.

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One Year After Adoption, Telehealth’s Benefits Reveal Long-Term Staying Power

In late March 2020, ATI Physical Therapy (ATI), one of the nation’s largest providers of physical therapy (PT) services, launched its telehealth platform CONNECT. As an essential health care provider during the pandemic, the new virtual platform gave patients a viable option to safely continue with their treatments.

Taking into account all healthcare providers, telehealth adoption increased 154% during the last week of March 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.1 Telehealth continues to prove itself beneficial beyond its originally intended uses and is expected to continue as a prominent means of care beyond the pandemic for the industry.

CONNECT was launched under the presumption that virtual PT sessions would be most effective for non-operative patients; patients with lower pain and disability levels; and patients further along in their recovery journey. However, after treating patients through more than 43,000 virtual visits in the year since CONNECT’s launch, ATI has learned telehealth benefits a significantly larger population of patients with a broader range of conditions and pain levels than it first anticipated. For a technology that experienced slow adoption throughout healthcare prior to the pandemic, telehealth is now widely embraced by providers in every corner of the industry.

Mirette Mikhail

“Patients with any diagnosis and of any age can benefit from telehealth,” said Mirette Mikhail, PT, DPT, CEIS, MTC, CertDN, clinic director at ATI Physical Therapy’s Downers Grove, Illinois clinic. “I’ve virtually treated an extremely wide range of patients this year – from young patients recovering from a sports injury to people with aches from uncomfortable work-from-home set-ups to a Medicare patient who recovered from total shoulder surgery. Telehealth is for everyone.”

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Boost The Value of Your Digital Investment: Success Happens From The Inside Out

By Susan Yeazel, Donna Hazen and Michelle Auchter, consultants, Point B.

It’s a familiar story among healthcare payers: Their companies spend significant time and money to roll out new digital capabilities for their employees, only to have the effort fall short or even fail altogether. The reason? People simply don’t engage, adopt or use the new tools and systems as expected.

While this problem didn’t begin with COVID, the pandemic has intensified the need to solve it. With remote work likely to be part of the new normal and employees relying more than ever on their companies’ digital infrastructure, existing gaps and new needs have surfaced. The challenge is especially complex in healthcare. As digitalization increasingly shapes the healthcare ecosystem, payers are looking to integrate new digital communication tools that support their ability to play a central role across the many different parties and layers of systems they serve—including customers, providers and partners.

There’s often an assumption that employees will naturally adopt new tools and technology simply because “they’re better.” But it takes more than the promise of a ”new and improved” tool to get people on board. We help companies take proven steps to improve digital adoption in ways that boost administrative efficiency, reduce costs, retain valuable talent, and improve the customer experience, which in turn leads to business growth. As an example, a company recently launched a digital program that employees rated 4.67 on a scale of 5 as being mission critical. That same program delivered a 263 percent increase in employee behaviors considered key to success. These numbers reflect high employee understanding and buy-in—both key to successful digital adoption.

Think, plan and invest in the employee experience

Think about the level of effort your organization puts into ensuring that externally-facing digital tools or web features are a success with your customers. How do you think, plan and invest to ensure that success?

While customer experience (CX) typically steals the spotlight, employee experience (EX) is nearly always the unsung hero to ensuring that companies succeed in engaging customers and driving growth. Companies that plan and invest in digital advances with this inside-out mindset are at a competitive advantage. We find they have a few key success factors in common:

Inspired and organized leadership: This is the #1 predictor of a successful digital adoption. Leaders need to be out in front – seen, heard and enthusiastically championing the value of the digital transformation.

Thoughtful preparation: Successful companies spend time upfront to really think through how they’d like to see this change unfold. What will success look like?

Active engagement: Inspiration and open, two-way communication are essential to engage heads, hearts and hands. Leadership can do much to support teams with the tools, capabilities and campaigns to make the digital journey as fun and rewarding as possible.

Make it clear: strategy, alignment and leadership

Before employees will invest in the “how” of digital adoption, they need to understand the “why.” Leadership must share a clear vision, articulate the drivers for change, explain the rationale for timing, and illustrate the alignment to corporate strategy.

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High Tech Baby Products Every New Parent Needs to Know About

When it comes time to start a family, you need to be prepared. Aside from the initial excitement of finding out you’re expecting, you also need to think about your newborn’s safety. As soon as your baby is born, you need to ensure he or she is safe with and without you. This means being able to monitor them when they’re sleeping or when you return to work. Thankfully, technology has made it easier than ever to keep tabs on your little one.

Even if they’re only sleeping in the next room, peace of mind is important and that can come at a cost. Technology is expensive, but you have a few options. You can work on reducing monthly expenses and one way is to remove expensive life insurance premiums. You can consider cashing in a portion of your life insurance policy to provide security now. There are plenty of guides online that explain how you can sell your life insurance policy, however, you should still talk to your insurance broker before making a final decision. In most cases, you need whole life coverage in order to cash out. The specifics will depend on the type of policy you have and how long you’ve been paying into the plan.

Video Monitors

Video monitors are changed so much since they first came out. Some are so advanced that now you can even see your baby when the room is pitch black. Some even keep track of your baby’s respirations, which dramatically reduces the likelihood of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. In addition, video monitors also have sleep trackers installed, which can help you sleep train your baby when the time is right.

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Undernutrition and Obesity In Kids and Teens: Is Technology A Cause

Child with tablet on sofa at home

The prevalence of obesity and undernutrition in children is a cause for concern; around 17% of US children between the ages of 2 and 19 are clinically obese, and approximately 13% of US children are considered to be malnourished. Although obesity rates among preschoolers have been falling in recent years, overweight children are five times more likely to become obese adults, putting them at risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and many other diseases which may require diagnosis and treatment by a primary care physician.

At the other end of the scale, undernutrition in children can cause stunting of physical growth and cognitive development issues; undernutrition can prevent children from reaching their full potential, and leave them more vulnerable to infectious disease. (1)(2)(3)

Technology is thought by some to be a contributing factor for childhood weight issues; here, we explore the link between some common child entertainment technologies and weight impacts:

The rise of social media, where people can present a heavily curated impression of their ‘perfect’ life, is thought by some to have a negative impact on children’s self-esteem. A 2011 study carried out by the University of Haifa found that higher levels of social media exposure contributed to increased rates of eating disorders and body image issues in young women. Researchers reported that the more time which young women spent on Facebook, the more likely they were to experience anorexia, bulimia, and unhealthy relationships with food. Clinically integrated networks can help determine an appropriate holistic treatment by connecting patients and their parents with a network of doctors in different fields. (4)

While video game addiction is thought by some to contribute to various physical and mental health issues in young people, the scientific community is conflicted about whether this is an accurate assessment. More study is needed to conclude whether video games are addictive or a legitimate health concern; however, some studies have shown tentative causation between video games and weight issues in children. The results of a Swiss study published in the Obesity Research journal indicated that for each hour a child spent playing video games, the likelihood that they were obese allegedly doubled. A recent review of 26 studies examining the link between video games and obesity reported that while 14 studies concluded no association between video games and obesity, 12 studies reported finding a link. Further research is required in this area. (5)(6)(7)

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Infection Control and Prevention: 10 Tips For Preventing Exposure and Contamination In Hospitals

Nurse, Medicine, Doctor, Hospital, Medical, SurgeryHospital-acquired infections are a challenge to clinicians as they increase the mortality and morbidity rate. Sources of infections in hospitals include pathogens from patients, inanimate environments, and medical personnel. In any healthcare delivery setting, infection control and prevention standard precautions should be taken into account. It is everyone’s responsibility to exercise the following tips to preventing exposure and contamination in hospitals. This way, they can avoid causing unnecessary suffering and pain to patients and their loved ones.

Thorough cleaning

Regular cleaning of surfaces in the hospital is among the common practices that ensure hygiene is maintained. Many people visit the hospital daily, including patients, medics, suppliers, or family members visiting their loved ones. Everyone comes from different settings where there are high chances of exposure to germs and environmental elements like dirt and dust. These are among the leading causes of infection in hospitals.

Every hospital must hire cleaning services to ensure that every surface is free of dirt. Provide clean water, detergent, and equipment to make cleaning efficient and fast. Thorough cleaning eliminates over 90% of microorganisms and bacteria by suspending them in the cleaning fluid and removing them from the surfaces.

Hand hygiene

Healthcare workers come into contact with many patients and hospital equipment as they go about their duties. They are, therefore, the most frequent drive for nosocomial infections, and hand hygiene is an ideal preventive measure. Hand hygiene involves disinfection and regular hand washing. Washing hands thoroughly with running water and soap eliminates over 90% of most or all of the superficial and flora contaminants.

When your hands are dirty, use antimicrobial soap for hand-washing to reduce transient flora, but when you come into contact with an infected patient, use medicated soap or an alcohol-based hand-disinfectant. During an operation, many gloves tear; disinfect your hands with a long-acting disinfectant before wearing gloves.

Infected patients’ isolation

Patients with nosocomial infections should be kept in isolation as a first essential measure. There are different kinds of isolation depending on the extent of risk of infection. For extremely infectious diseases, such as diphtheria and hemorrhagic fever, isolation measures are stringent, while infectious diarrhea and less-infectious respiratory infections aren’t as stringent.

Since isolation is a labor-intensive and expensive process for healthcare workers and patients, it should be adapted to causative agents and disease severity. Practice standard precautions of isolation by wearing protective equipment and keeping patients in private rooms away from other patients. Also, minimize interaction with isolated patients by ensuring they are tended to by a few medical personnel and hospital staff.

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Modernizing Healthcare IT: Lessons From CMS, CDC, and NIH

By Scott Dix, federal civilian account manager,

Scott Dix

Telehealth services, health tracking devices, cloud-based electronic health records: these are just some of the healthcare services and technologies that have seen a surge in consideration and use because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Since the start of the pandemic a year ago, telemedicine alone in the U.S. increased 20-fold, according to a RAND Corporation study.

Healthcare consumers are increasingly expecting simpler, faster, and easier ways to interact with providers and retrieve their healthcare information. Healthcare organizations must evolve their IT operations to meet these patient expectations, while operating more efficiently in a digital-first world. A common denominator across healthcare digital transformation initiatives – and a key driver of efficiency – is the cloud.

However, a 2020 survey looking into the impact of cloud adoption as a result of the pandemic found healthcare solidly in the middle of the pack in terms of adoption. While 19 percent of respondents implemented or plan to implement cloud because of COVID-19, a full 22% say they have no plans to implement.

What’s the challenge to further adoption? Technology is only one part of the answer. Deciding on the right cloud provider, negotiating a contract, and having in place the proper cloud management solutions to govern cloud use are key pieces of adoption, but people and process have a dramatic impact on every organization’s success in the cloud.

Fortunately, healthcare organizations can look to familiar partners to learn how to modernize their IT infrastructure through cloud adoption: the U.S. Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In each case, these federal institutions focused on three areas to achieve successful cloud adoption: human-centered design, agile methodology, and training and upskilling.

The CMS modernized the Medicare Payment System by building a new cloud environment to process claims. They developed the “Blue Button” API that opened Medicare claims data to third-party developers, giving both beneficiaries and their providers a full view of the patient’s history. And they launched the Quality Payment Program that digitized documentation of value-based care quality metrics, which were previously submitted to CMS by fax and took months to return feedback and payment.

At the CDC, the Surveillance Data Platform created a one-stop location for state and local health departments to send data, where automation is used to route data to the appropriate CDC program. The National Syndromic Surveillance Program connects local, state, and national public health agencies to data from across the country, leading to earlier alerts for health events and quicker responses. And The Digital Bridge Project is piloting electronic case reporting, which reduces manual work processes and improves routine outbreak management.

Last year, the NIH made genomic data about the coronavirus publicly accessible to researchers in the cloud, allowing quick access at no cost. Its STRIDES Initiative allows NIH to explore the use of cloud environments to streamline NIH data use by partnering with commercial providers, providing cost-effective access to industry-leading partners to help advance biomedical research.

Human-centered design

Each of these advances starts with the foundational idea that adopting new technology must put the end user experience first.

“In almost everything that we do, human-centered design is a central component and we start with that,” Rajiv Uppal, CMS’ IT Office Director and Acting CIO, said at the AFCEA Bethesda Health IT day in January 2021, Federal News Network reports.

For example, CMS’ aforementioned Quality Payment Program has a human-centered design process that engages the clinician community for whom programs and services are created. Studies gather feedback from the community on an existing design, new concept, or interactive prototype. The QPP can also explore feature use to understand any pain points or gather clinicians’ perspective on a specific topic.

The CDC partnered with the Lab at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for a groundbreaking pilot that paired candid interviews with struggling veterans with data to bring a different perspective to develop transformative ideas on caring for those veterans.

“Human-centered design can be deployed in big ways to address sticky issues in public health,” Leah Chan, a team member and Public Health Advisor at the Injury Center, told The Commons. “But it also can be applied in small ways to make a meeting better or engage a partner in a new way. It’s making sure that we are putting people at the center of what we do.”

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