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Experts discuss the uses of AI; say it will be essential in healthcare

Two experts agree: AI will become essential to healthcare. AI can help providers step away from the EHR and enable precision medicine.

Health IT experts and care providers are discovering that the uses of AI in healthcare are numerous. And two experts agree that this technology will become essential.

Anthony Sagel, chief medical officer at Landmark Hospitals in Athens, Ga., and at Technomad, a cloud-based software vendor in Bonita Springs, Fl., and Madison Sample, Jr., M.D., vice chairman of the department of anesthesiology at Methodist Hospital in Chicago, Ill., both have different ideas of the uses of AI in healthcare, ranging from getting providers away from the computer and caring for the patient face-to-face to enabling precision medicine.

Will the use of AI become necessary in healthcare? If so, why?

Anthony Sagel, chief medical officer at Landmark HospitalsAnthony Sagel

Anthony Sagel: I've been practicing [medicine] for about 15 years now and I've seen just a dramatic increase and more and more requirements that a physician has on a daily basis and also more and more patients that need to be seen on a daily basis. … What that comes down to is time-consuming measures and how to improve it. … I kind of laugh about this sometimes but our goal ultimately would be to get rid of the keyboard, to get rid of the mouse and to be able to sit down at our EMR … get into our EMR, create our note … place in all the orders, whether it be 40 orders at a time … and get out. Get out of that EMR, get back to the bedside or whatever you need to do but don't sit down at the computer, which is what is happening these days. Physicians are spending hours upon hours daily within that EMR and that's becoming a real problem and I don't see it getting any better unless we have a faster way of getting away from the EMR. EMRs are great but they can bog you down and prevent you from spending more time with the patient or family meetings or whatnot. So that's where I see the importance of [AI] ultimately.

Why do you think the use of AI will be necessary? What are the uses of AI in healthcare?

I think it's a no brainer. [AI] will become an essential component of healthcare for multiple reasons.
Madison Samplevice chairman of the department of anesthesiology at Methodist Hospital

Madison Sample: I think it's a no brainer. [AI] will become an essential component of healthcare for multiple reasons. Just the basic reason of what Bill Gates said almost five years ago: The overall knowledge base of our world, it's doubling at such a phenomenal rate. It's increasing at an exponential rate that it's unfair and unrealistic for a physician, for her to know everything about every topic in medicine, and … for an anesthesiologist or an oncologist to know everything in their field … to have AI which can take a very 360 degree view on the patient in front of them, being able to interface with … data streams of knowledge … but also to be able to integrate other aspects, which we often don't talk about a lot, which is the precision medicine, being able to look at a person's own genetic make-up and to be able to know which medicines have a high likelihood of working given that patient's own genetic make-up. I think we're going to have to use AI for that kind of world which is not that far away.

I wouldn't be surprised if five to 10 years down the road virtually every patient, when admitted, part of their admission or registration [will be] getting a swab and [hospitals] being able to keep [that data] on file or [make a] DNA footprint because a lot of what we do is based on symptoms and signs. We make diagnoses and then with that diagnosis we give a drug which is best practice medicine. But even in that case the best we can hope for, for the most part, is a 50% to 60% utilization or success rate for that drug. If you were to translate that to other industries, for instance, I don't want to drive a car that works 50% to 60% of the time [especially if] the brakes work 50% to 60% of the time. I think we can do a lot better and I think AI will provide a much richer reservoir of data and knowledge so we can do a better job with our patients.

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