When physicians make clinical decision such as an accurate diagnosis for their patients, they have to take into account a large amount of information. Lately, this amount has increased considerably and is expected to grow even faster in the coming years, leaving healthcare professionals with the challenge of managing extremely large datasets.
When we look for example at pulmonologists when interpreting pulmonary function tests (PFTs). These tests are the main tool for evaluating the respiratory system and generate values for more than 15 different parameters. These parameters are represented by the absolute number, the predicted value for that patient, the percentage of the predicted value and the z-score, creating over 60 numbers and their mutual relationship to consider. In addition, the results of PFTs are combined with patient information (age, smoking history, height and weight…), symptoms and the results of other tests, to come to a diagnosis.
Looking at this example, it is easy to imagine that it becomes challenging to leverage all the data available for accurate clinical decisions and it is difficult not to get confused by the overload of data.
Processing large amounts of complex data in a consistent way is exactly where AI is at its strongest. It can recognize things in the data that humans only see when they are looking for it. This is why AI holds the potential to become an essential decision support tool for physicians.
Reducing the administrative burden
Several studies have shown that the time spent on paperwork and administration has become one of the key frustrations for physicians. According to Academic Medicine, healthcare professionals spend, on average, 24% of working hours on administrative duties.
“According to the Medscape Compensation Report of 2019, 76% of pulmonologists spend 10 hours or more per week on administration and paperwork.
40% even reports 20 hours or more.”
Most of the respondents agreed that the administrative duties had an impact on their ability to deliver high-quality care and to focus during patient consult. Not only the quality of care they deliver, but also their mental health and career satisfaction gets affected by the administrative burden.
How to overcome this challenge ? Rely on technology.
In their study, MIT and GE Health interviewed more than 900 business and administrative healthcare professionals, some of which who have already implemented or are planning on implementing AI in their hospital. The study shows that doctors using pilot AI programs spend 1/3 less time writing reports, while doctors using extensive AI programs spend 2/3 less time writing reports.
Getting back time to focus on human interactions
As physicians get more time to spend on other things than administration, their profession and tasks are changing. Technologies such as AI allows them to reconnect with what motivated them to go into medicine in the first place : Help people.
When supported by AI, healthcare professionals can spend more time with patients and on assessing and planning treatment requirements. Besides more patient facing time, physicians spend more time consulting and collaborating with their colleagues.
In the coming years, AI will transform many aspects in our lives including our healthcare system. Something important to remember is that AI’s most powerful use is to enhance and support human capabilities, not replace them. It is only the beginning for AI, and it is on its way to having a major impact on the entire healthcare industry.