AI as patient safety assistant that reduces, prevents adverse events

The 30 year old SXSW conference and cultural event has been rising as a healthcare venue for the past few years. One talk this Editor would like to have attended this past weekend was presented by Eric Horvitz, Microsoft Research Laboratory Technical Fellow and managing director, who is both a Stanford PhD in computing and an MD. This combination makes him a unique warrior against medical errors, which annually kill over 250,000 patients. His point was that artificial intelligence is increasingly used in tools that are ‘safety nets’ for medical staff in situations such as failure to rescue–the inability to treat complications that rapidly escalate–readmissions, and analyzing medical images.

A readmissions clinical support tool, RAM (Readmissions Management), he worked on eight years agon, produced now by Caradigm, predicts which patients have a high probability of readmission and those who will need additional care. Failure to rescue often results from a concatenation of complications happening quickly and with a lack of knowledge that resemble the prelude to an aircraft crash. “We’re considering [data from] thousands of patients, including many who died in the hospital after coming in for an elective procedure. So when a patient’s condition deteriorates, they might lose an organ system. It might be kidney failure, for example, so renal people come in. Then cardiac failure kicks in so cardiologists come in and they don’t know what the story is. The actual idea is to understand the pipeline down to the event so doctors can intervene earlier.” and to understand the patterns that led up to it. Another is to address potential problems that may be outside the doctor’s direct knowledge field or experiences, including the Bayesian Theory of Surprise affecting the thought process. Dr Horvitz discussed how machine learning can assist medical imaging and interpretation. His points were that AI and machine learning, applied to thousands of patient cases and images, are there to assist physicians, not replace them, and not to replace the human touch. MedCityNews

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