We’re going to be sharing a story every week for the 12 weeks of summer, showing you how healthcare organisations are using technology to transform patient outcomes and increase productivity. For the eleventh blog in the series, NHS consultant Neil Howell and Microsoft Partner Martin Neale of ICS.AI explore how artificial intelligence is transforming modern medicine.
Digital transformation, we were promised, would revolutionise the healthcare sector. But while it certainly modernised over the last decade or so, was replacing incredible amounts of paperwork for digital paperwork – without seeing many of the benefits we were told.
In short, we’ve faced the lost promise of ‘digital health’.
Today, that’s changing. The art of AI prediction within the world of healthcare promises to be an exciting chapter of medicine. AI patient diagnosis, preventable AI disease prediction, and pushing the barriers of medical knowledge with AI represent the tip of the iceberg of what we can achieve, using ICS.AI’s brand-new healthcare platform.
1. Medical records are accurate and easy-to-access
Maintaining accurate medical records is critical to the smooth running of any NHS trust. Yet, when medical staff review a patient’s previous notes, there’s often a lack of information: staff have no idea who saw the patient before, there’s no medical letters regarding a patient’s rare drug allergy, or a senior consultant’s insights into potential rare conditions that hasn’t be acted upon.
Many doctors are forced to play detectives. Documenting every medical interaction with patients, no matter how trivial, within electronic notes has ironically made it easier for crucial information to get lost in the shuffle. This is because electronic records were designed to store and retrieve data. No attempt was made to prioritise, analyse, or predict patient conditions.
This is where AI can assist. Complex notes can now be unpacked using natural, language-based learning techniques. Medical staff are then able to quickly see patient summaries and critical data, such as rare potential diagnoses. This has the added effect of ensuring there’s also no need to complete a patient’s medical history every time.
2. More time for face-to-face consultations
At the heart of medical care is the idea that more time spent face to face leads to more patient engagement, more trust, more empathy, and ultimately better quality healthcare.
However, in today’s time-poor healthcare environment, attempts to reduce over-running have the unintended consequence of leading to fewer patients seen.
This is especially true in specialities focused on complex patient conditions. As a result, waiting times are driven up as patients wait for specialist review.
Unfortunately, the time medical staff hope to gain by dropping face-to-face time is spent poring over badly coded electronic patient records. It’s a battle of paperwork vs. patients, and we know which doctors would prefer.
Once a trust switches to an AI-driven digital platform, though, time spent studying records is reduced. Doctors are then free to spend more time with their patients – just as they’d wish.
3. Improvements to pro-active care
The art of prediction is AI’s true power, helping to drive the quality care agenda.
At present, healthcare can often feel very reactive. But imagine AI ‘understanding’ a patient’s condition without the need for out-of-date investigations. On systems like ICS AI’s Microsoft-powered Healthcare AI Transformation Platform, these are now automatically identified, with repeat investigations automated off the back of it.
Consider expert working clinical guidelines. Artificial intelligence can compare patient treatments with the accepted standards of care, with patients flagged up and consultations arranged. If the reason for the deviation from care is valid, then AI learns from this. Specific traits can be identified in patients, which can be linked to similarly specific medical trials. Participation invitations to these trials are then automatically sent.
The future of healthcare will be based on artificial intelligence predicting development of the disease – and accurate enough to allow preventative measures to be taken.
About the authors
Neil Howell MB CHB PhD FRCS is an NHS Consultant working in Cardiac Surgery. He first became interested in digital health and statistical modelling during his PhD, and over the last year he has taken time to learn about artificial intelligence looking at the applications of reinforced machine learning and neural networks within the field of medicine and medical research. He believes that AI will change the face of medical practice as we know it and that whilst AI will not replace doctors, doctors using AI will replace those that do not.
Martin Neale is the CEO of ICS AI Ltd and a long-term partner and advocate of Microsoft. An industry veteran, Martin’s passion is bringing IT innovation to mass adoption. Martin has been responsible for introducing over 20 technology solutions in his 30 years in the industry.