Healthcare Headlines: The Aidoc Take

Healthcare has dominated headlines for the better part of the last twenty years. Whether it’s proposals for large-scale reform like the Affordable Care Act or, more recently, the constant news updates surrounding the COVID-19 Pandemic, we are all invested in and impacted by the healthcare news cycle. 

Although not every healthcare-related update carries the earth-shattering implications of COVID-19, there are countless industry-wide developments that deserve the time of day. Technological and pharmaceutical breakthroughs. Promising clinical trials. Solutions to combat provider labor shortages. New treatment paths. These are the types of headlines we want to bring to light, with a hint of Aidoc perspective for good measure.

Headline 1: ‘Black boxes’ make their way into hospital ORs

Main Takeaway: With a name inspired by recording devices used in airplanes, American, Canadian and European hospitals have implemented Surgical Safety Technologies’ OR Black Box “in hopes of reducing medical errors and improving patient safety and operating room efficiency.” The technology is already installed at Duke University Hospital “to study and improve patient positioning to reduce skin tissue and nerve injuries and to improve communication among nurse personnel during surgical procedures.”  

The Aidoc Take: As healthcare continually faces staffing challenges and provider burnout, the relief that new technologies can bring to health systems vis a vis helping improve outcomes, optimize hospital operations and reduce mistakes can serve as precursors for adoption. Much like the OR Black Box, healthcare AI helps to address all three of those crucial needs, acting as a tool that can positively impact patient outcomes by helping shape data-driven decision making processes.

Headline 2: Kentucky governor signs bill to boost funding for rural healthcare providers

Main Takeaway:  A new measure was signed into law that will increase Medicaid payment rates for outpatient procedures. This legislation was designed to protect the state’s rural hospitals from closure. The legislation wasn’t only passed with hospitals in mind, but the local economies in which they exist. “This will not only save hospital jobs and services but also imagine what would happen to businesses, especially in rural communities, that depend on local hospital purchases and wages to support their businesses.”

The Aidoc Take: Just last summer, our CEO Elad Walach pondered what role AI might be able to play in reducing the disparity of advanced medical technology between urban and rural healthcare facilities. Considering the industry-wide labor shortage, the problems facing metropolitan-based healthcare facilities are likely magnified in their rural counterparts. In January, US News & World Report reported that over 600 rural hospitals were at risk of closing in the near future “because they aren’t making enough money to cover the rising cost of providing care, and their low financial reserves leave them little margin for error.” In short, it’s going to take a multi-pronged approach to help keep rural hospitals afloat, whether that be driven mainly through technology adoptions or legislative efforts like Kentucky’s House Bill HB75.

Headline 3: ChatGPT and cardiology: A close look at the strengths and weaknesses of AI chatbots

Main Takeaway: If you’re even remotely adjacent to the tech world, you’ve likely heard of OpenAI’s ChatGPT. The groundbreaking AI chatbot has taken (and passed!) the BAR exam and scored in the 93rd percentile in the Reading & Writing section of the SAT. 

A group of cardiologists from Cleveland Clinic and Stanford University further tested the chatbot by feeding it questions about preventative cardiology and cardiovascular disease. The AI answered a considerable amount of queries correctly, but questions still remain surrounding when and where the technology will be effectively applied to real-time medical practice. 

The Aidoc Take: Something we’ve recently discussed was the necessity for multiple types of AI in order to actualize the dream of enterprise-wide AI. The openness of cardiovascular physicians to pressure-check the capabilities of AI is certainly exciting, however, they reflect a crucial question brought up in the article: is there a possibility that the AI chatbot will replace physicians in the eyes of patients? This is a subject we’ve covered extensively when it comes to the dynamic between radiology AI and radiologists. The conclusion? AI is meant to augment, not replace physicians. As Ashish Sarraju, M.D. of Cleveland Clinic says “…I ultimately still think patients look for the ability to interact with a human being. I find it hard to imagine a chatbot is going to offer enough patients to replace clinicians all together.” It will be interesting to watch how more types of AI will be used to improve both physician workflows and patient experiences moving forward. 

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