Dr. Joe Marks is the CTO (Wētā Digital), Unity Software and sits on the Board of Directors for Augmedix.
It doesn’t take a leap of imagination to connect Artificial Intelligence (AI) with its proper role in healthcare. While we will always need clinicians to handle the interactive portion of a healthcare visit and connect with patients at the point of care, there are processes that can be eased along the way through recently developed and emerging technologies. With clinician burnout running high and staffing shortages with us for the foreseeable future, 2023 stands to be a pivotal year for AI to elevate our industry.
Narrowed Gap Between Telehealth and In-Person Visits
As we’ve seen since 2020, telehealth continues to take a more permanent place in care delivery. However, virtual care has limitations when it comes to physical exams. With the prevalence of AI, report monitoring devices to evaluate a patient’s health will enhance virtual visits and offer more opportunities for virtual exams. A growing number of remote healthcare monitoring wearables, health monitoring smartphone solutions, and contactless systems also allow for ongoing tracking of the patient’s health. Improvements to telehealth are also anticipated through streamlined medical documentation, which impacts clinician workflows.
Easier Medical Documentation
Together, natural language processing and AI offer opportunities to change clinical workflows by augmenting the work of clinicians and staff. One use case of this is easing the burden of medical documentation. By leaning on technology for the more tedious tasks in their workflow, clinicians can focus directly on point of care and develop more satisfying connections with their patients. Ambient medical documentation is also expected to be an important piece in improving healthcare data management.
Optimized Healthcare Data Management
The key to ushering in the age of precision medicine, the biggest trend to watch for 2023, is improved management of the healthcare data frontier. Currently, highly valuable information can get lost among the vast terabytes of data being collected. Information from patient EHRs can be connected, recorded, and organized more efficiently, which is a big step in breaking down information silos. From there, AI-driven technology can help integrate medical and device data and resolve duplicate information, increasing the quality and value of the data collected. This improved management offers innumerable benefits, including enhancing the diagnostic process.
Every year, roughly 400,000 hospitalized patients suffer preventable harm. Improving the diagnostic process by predicting and diagnosing diseases faster and utilizing real-time disease surveillance is an exciting application of AI that can reduce errors and save lives. At-home diagnostics testing is also expanding, offering patients easier access to services such as home urinalysis or improved diabetes management. This allows patients more opportunities for consumer choice and enables them to be more active participants in their own care. Improved diagnostics, coupled with optimized healthcare data management and high-quality medical documentation, are the essential tools needed to lay the groundwork for the advancement of healthcare AI and what’s next—the practice of personalized medicine.
The Next Great Frontier: Precision Medicine
Precision medicine is patient-specific medicine, which stands to revolutionize care by utilizing better Electronic Health Record (EHR) data and AI to create a customizable treatment plan based on the patient’s health history and genomic profile. AI can enhance care to help create medications customized to specific patients, assess hereditary risk, or focus on preventative care, which can improve patient outcomes and quality of life. While precision medicine is still in its early stages, the opportunities are endless.
AI offers the ability to streamline processes and improve the quality of life for clinicians and the patient experience in hospitals and medical practices across the country. As we venture into 2023 and beyond, physicians will have more and more opportunities to leverage AI to enhance the care process.