Healthcare. How to make AI work for You.

We look at the constant hype surrounding this overblown topic and ask; can it deliver for you?

On the basis of what we have seen – probably not. Although according to multiple independent reports “When it comes to healthcare AI, the UK is the powerhouse of Europe” – there are conflicting statements by  UK Government saying that “dealing with the NHS remains challenging”. And looking at a recent statements from others,  the evidence from startups and those tech companies who are at the forefront of developing new AI based solutions, take up is small, and there is  “little benefit to the value proposition”, from using AI per se. So there is a conflict between commercial take up – and perception of relevance.

What is worse, is that we are already seeing one hospital terminate their digitalisation journey, because – as one clinical Consultant told me – “it just doesn’t work”. 

The reasons  it “doesn’t work”  are many and varied, but largely fall into two camps,  first of which  is because the introduction of AI or Digitalisation, is not an IT or Tech discussion. It is a business process discussion. It is an HR and best use of people, discussion. If it remains easier to flip the paper pages of a file to see someone’s latest notes – then that is what it is.  But also – the announcement of a single IT decision point of the new NHSX quango, is itself a misnomer. At the upcoming Digital Health Conference, focussing on the new NHSX facility – there are no less than six Decision Makers all involved in the decision making process

So… what are the practical steps that you need to take, to get the best out ofAI based new technology?

1. Understand and create a Roadmap, of what you want to get out of this process? If it is simply to shore up your existing practices, then forget it.

2. Know which areas you  wish to include – both from a data access point of view, and also groups of people.  The more groups involved, the worse it will be.

3. Understand that what works for one hospital, may probably not work for you. Make clear choices about solutions that can deliver a specific benefit.

4. Do not engage in Trials.  AI data management is not a clinical discussion, and the algorithms used are already proven. You are already good to go.

5. Have milestones of progress. 

6. And only when you have all of the above written on a piece of paper – then involve your IT people.

You may well now find that the money you had previously allocated for something nebulous, will indeed deliver when broken down into manageable practical specifics.

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IF A.I. IS SO IMPORTANT… CAN SOMEBODY PLEASE EXPLAIN WHAT IT WILL ACTUALLY DO?

We look at some examples of the  new focus in healthcare and ask; really?

The recent announcement of the upcoming HIMSS Impact 2018| Leading Digital Transformation and Big Data in Medicine – conference in Berlin later this year, coincides with an announcement in the uk from the Government, that it is now investing zillions into “AI”, to combat various troublesome diseases.

In theory,  and indeed in reality, a new focus on a different way of  handling patient information, will save time, not necessarily save money, but enable our services to do lots more. And it comes about because there are just too many people, needing too many services. And as one clinical director told me; ‘we can hardly put a new clinic in the hospital car park..”

But  at a time when most Hospitals are still coming to terms about moving from Windows XP, there are three major stumbling blocks, and it is important to spell these out before we all get too excited.

First – if the UK Gov attempts to roll out this Finance in the same way as it has done for previous bjg deals, let’s say such as COGDE or Scan 4 Safety, etc.. then nothing much new will happen at all. Those hospitals that did take up either of the above, have largely  spent money on things they were already doing – so it just became a way of getting finance but not improvement; or they embark on a lengthy process of milestones that alas could have been done cheaper and faster with existing tech in the private sector. 

The result is that those Hospitals that did not make the cut, so to say, have become confused, and do nothing, as opposed to at least try to do “something”. What we have found is that if the management of a hospital wants to advance its healthcare performance, it will do so, regardless of Gov announcements.

Second – AI is not a Hospital process, but a Community process. This means that the data from a patient does not require said patient to come to a clinic or be seen by anybody in a place called a hospital. The data is patient driven and comes from his/her smartphone, his Apple Watch, her Fitbit, etc – without anybody doing anything much. In other words, AI in health is consumer driven,   and there are already plenty of Apps that harness very specialist health data from each and everyone of us, that can already be viewed by our GP or Hospital. The secret to AI health is by increasing patient engagement.

But finally – we need to understand what all this will do to our actual lives. What AI means, is that our diabetes, our heart, our fitness, can be monitored remotely – and we ourselves will take greater ownership of our lifestyle. 

This means that conventional financial models of where money comes from and for what – have to change. The focus will be empowering the community, and paying hospitals to monitor that – rather than get paid only when we physically make a visit.

Because if this does not happen, then health provision will move to pharmacies, etc, who will provide this monitoring for us – and we will pay them money to do so, because it will be immediate and in real time – instead of waiting to see our local GP or clinic appointment.

Which in turn will distance us from the very organisations we already pay money to, to look after us.

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