Attend a healthcare conference or pick up any trade publication and you’re sure to come across an impassioned discussion on AI. However, it is not always clear what the most immediate applications of this emerging technology are. This leaves many executives asking two key questions: What exactly is AI and how can it help my hospital?
During a Nov. 14 a workshop at the Becker’s Hospital Review 7th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable in Chicago, James Hereford, president and CEO of Minneapolis-based Fairview Health Services; Grant Wicklund, president and CEO of Wheat Ridge, Colo.-based Lutheran Medical Center; Mudit Garg, founder and CEO of Qventus; and Peter Fleischut, MD, senior vice president and chief transformation officer of New York-Presbyterian in New York City discussed the value of AI initiatives and how they can benefit hospitals and health systems.
While many people focus on the transformational potential AI holds for patient care, Dr. Fleischut said providers should also keep operational applications in mind. He said the efficiency of back office responsibilities — such as human resources, supply chain and inventory — can benefit through relatively straightforward AI solutions.
“There is a lot of back office transformation that needs to happen and that’s where the AI part comes in. We’re thinking about how we can automate these functions so we can provide a fundamentally different care model to our patients,” said Dr. Fleischut
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Mr. Hereford noted that clinicians are “people doing heroic work in a poor system,” and argued that AI can help alleviate some of the stressors of that system and renew focus on patients. Today’s clinicians face a high level of administrative burden, due in part to the requirements of electronic health records, and AI can help drive efficiency for these processes to reduce the rate of clinician burnout.
However, not all providers can seamlessly adopt AI. In order to effectively implement these tools, it is vital for providers to cultivate an organizational attitude that takes the feelings of frontline staff into account because they will ultimately be the most affected by these changes.
“I think one has to purposefully build and sustain a culture that is not petrified of change. And we’ve worked really hard over a period of almost nine years now, slowly but surely inoculating them against the fear of change. Part of the way you do that is involving the front line from the very beginning,” said Mr. Wicklund.
Though the technology that enables AI solutions may sound complex and futuristic, Mr. Garg said its goal is simple in the end.
“The biggest question for AI is how we can make it so that the ordinary things we need to do over the course of day don’t require extraordinary effort,” said Mr. Garg. “I think the biggest opportunity lies is how can we have a highly reliable system that can repeatedly do the things it needs to do and let our people focus on delivering care.”
Date: January 15, 2019