By Matt Jackson and David Le Penske, Digital Innovation at Insight
The healthcare field is consistently one of the most rapidly evolving industries, as researchers pour resources into providing better care, improving patient outcomes, and fighting the deadliest diseases. Some innovations, such as apps and data analysis to track the patient journey from hospitalization to outpatient services, seek to solve immediate challenges for providers. Others are incredible technical feats like finding ways to edit genes to potentially eradicate disease before it can even begin.
Many technological advances, however, are focused on helping healthcare facilities automate onerous manual administrative and day-to-day processes, leaving providers with more time to focus on their core mission: patient care. These innovations show that we are on the cusp of some truly amazing advancements in healthcare.
Driving the revolution in wait? Artificial intelligence.
While the idea of integrating AI into healthcare delivery and management may seem a bit scary and “big brother” to a layperson, it is poised to make a meaningful difference in our everyday lives — from helping to deliver more personalized care to curing what we once thought was incurable.
AI helps give data meaning
AI helps the healthcare field make better sense of all of the data we have learned to aggregate over the years. It’s one thing to have millions of electronic patient records living in the cloud; it’s another to automatically anonymize that data and mine it for important patterns that can affect broader health outcomes.
At the end of the day, AI in the healthcare space is geared at tackling some of the most pressing global public health issues, allowing us all to live longer and better. Here are just a couple of the projects we have worked on at Insight Enterprises that hint at where AI will take healthcare in the future, and how it’s already making a meaningful impact in our lives:
Helping floor nurses make better decisions and ask better questions
We partnered with Steward Health Care System, one of the largest private hospital operators in the United States, to figure out how to deliver better patient outcomes across its sprawling, nationwide system of hospitals and technology platforms.
When we began the project, Steward’s floor nurses were managing their patient loads across 11 different, non-integrated systems. Our task was to streamline an arduous patient management system and identify nursing needs in advance to provide the best possible care for patients.
Leveraging the immense data at Steward’s fingertips, we were able to consolidate information from those 11 systems into a single dashboard, broken out into a custom six-app suite that enabled healthcare practitioners to make better patient decisions — that is, it didn’t recommend any specific treatment. Rather, it consolidated data in such a way that Steward’s nurses and clinicians could ask better questions, make smarter decisions and identify patterns to find efficiencies to support both patients and medical professionals.
The answer lay in predictive modeling, helping Steward to staff appropriately for patient volumes up to 10 days before those in need of care even walked through the door. And the results were telling — the average length of patient stay was cut nearly in half, and all because AI was able to automatically make heads and tails of immense troves of data.
Enabling research and innovation in treatment
One of the most challenging aspects of developing new treatments for disease is wading through a massive universe of clinical research, much of which is governed through a constellation of international regulations and standards. Left to their own devices to trawl the information available to them, clinicians may not be able to effectively identify what research has been done already and whether they have full access to the clinical data.
But as international standard-setters have increasingly called for researchers to make their data available to other researchers, the stage has been set for a new system that allows for efficient data aggregation and sharing.
Enter Vivli. We joined forces with this nonprofit to develop a platform that aggregates encrypted clinical trial data on multiple diseases across research bodies and nations, allowing researchers to request direct access to clinical trial data from its owner. Through the power of AI, Vivli enables clinicians to work with data from multiple studies while also taking care to ensure that only authorized people view the data, which has been appropriately anonymized as needed.
What does this mean for the healthcare field overall? This means scientists and researchers are able to avoid conducting duplicative studies and instead begin to identify correlations amid a treasure trove of information, which could lead to more innovative thinking, better treatments and better cures for the world’s most challenging health crises.
AI … where theory becomes reality
Our work with Steward and Vivli are just a sampling of the innovations we’re seeing in the healthcare space. But the work is widespread and ongoing well beyond our slice of the healthcare tech universe, always moving towards building a healthier world. And every step along the way brings us closer to the tipping point where AI might enable predictive analytics to prevent disease — including genetic conditions — before they even manifest.
A world where we might be able to use data and computers to stop disease in the womb? Just a few years ago, we might have said, “Huh. Imagine that.” But now we’re saying, “We did imagine it, and we’re turning it into reality.”
Stay tuned to our blog for a deeper look into the future of AI in healthcare.
Matt Jackson leads Insight’s Digital Innovation team in the design of enterprise software solutions, focusing on modern enterprise applications and security architectures. His passion goes beyond achieving operational excellence and deeper into transforming organizations. Read more thoughts from Matt.
David Le Penske is the director of healthcare and life sciences for the Digital Innovation team at Insight. With more than 15 years of experience in the healthcare IT space, including digital innovation, cloud and software as a service, he specializes in strategic planning, execution and business development.