How Advanced Analytics And AI Are Transforming Healthcare

By Dr. Jeff R. Livingstone, Unisys

Many healthcare organizations already have started to shift from the traditional fee-for-service model to a value-based care (VBC) model in which providers are incentivized to provide proactive, coordinated care in an effort to deliver better patient outcomes.

However, advanced healthcare analytics along with artificial intelligence (AI) represent critical pieces to the future of VBC and will help shift the fundamental landscape of medicine in the coming 12 to 24 months.

At its core, the VBC model represents a shift in mindset – from thinking of the patient as just a person needing treatment to thinking of the patient as a customer buying a product. That means creating an overall positive customer experience is more important than ever. Being able to leverage innovative technology to strengthen a provider’s VBC model is key not only to providing the most effective patient care possible, but to delivering an optimal customer experience as well. And in this aspect, disruptive technology can play a big role.
Analytics and AI have great potential to make significant and positive impacts within care management, patient diagnoses and medical intervention.

Advanced Analytics Will Drive New Treatment Delivery Models

Perhaps no single technology plays as critical a role to the success of VBC as advanced data analytics. In the coming year, analytics will spur new methods of patient treatment for improved quality of care. Specifically, interactive dashboards built using analytics data will help organizations visualize the efficacy of various treatment programs, filter data to identify at-risk patients and detect patterns for certain conditions and co-morbidities.

Real-life applications for this data are especially significant in areas like opioid management, a growing concern throughout the Unites States. For example, prescription data signatures can help providers visualize and identify associations between the numbers of diagnoses, scripts and refills by region. From there, providers will be able to actively effect preventative measures, rather than waiting to treat reactively patients who have become addicted to opioids.

Artificial Intelligence Will Lead To Better, Faster Patient Diagnoses

Healthcare’s use of AI is still in its infancy. A recent study of industry executives suggests only a fourth of those surveyed had achieved any meaningful traction with an AI pilot program.

Despite this low uptake,

we predict that AI will soon spur significant improvements across the patient care continuum, in particular around diagnoses and diagnostics.

For example, AI algorithms are already able to correctly read medical images much faster than doctors. As these self-learning algorithms evolve in the next year, readings will become more precise and accurate. Interaction with greater numbers of training data sets will facilitate machine-based reading to recognition, and ultimately recognition to recommendation. This will lead to faster, more accurate diagnoses, and as a result, better patient care.

As for medical diagnostics, many of today’s processes still require physical samples collected via invasive biopsies, which comes with certain risks. However, in the coming year we can expect that pattern recognition models, which take inputs from a variety of medical and non-medical information, to play an increasingly critical role in diagnostics. This means that,

in some cases, tissue sampling will no longer be necessary, saving patients from painful and risky procedures.

Telehealth Goes Mainstream

Telehealth, or the provision of healthcare to remote locations, has the potential to vastly expand care access and lower patient costs. Unfortunately, several barriers, including reimbursement policies, have prevented telehealth from gaining significant market traction. However, as populations of information workers migrate away from cities, begin to work more remotely, and acquire more reliable and faster broadband performance, they will increasingly push for new, affordable ways to access care. This will incentivize more providers to adopt telehealth technologies as part of their standard offering over the next two to three years.

The growth of connected devices, powered by Internet of Things technology, has really broadened the horizon of what is now possible. Though most people think of telehealth as merely a video call with a doctor, modern IoT technologies in combination with modern telecommunications can provide a completely immersive experience. However, it is important that providers remain mindful of the security and privacy risks that can accompany connected technology. Also, it is critically important for providers to work with trusted vendors capable of offering both healthcare information technology and security strategies while protecting patients and their information.

“The customer experience is the key to succeeding in the future of medicine. Ultimately, those organizations that leverage AI and advanced analytics to their full potential will be best suited to deliver a seamless experience to their customers – by giving patients more control over their own healthcare.”

About The Author

Jeff R. Livingstone, Ph.D.., is the vice president and global head, Life Sciences and Healthcare, for Unisys. He has more than 30 years’ experience and knowledge about the science of drug discovery and molecular engineering, as well as cybersecurity and IT modernization expertise within the industry.

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