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AL hospital tackles patient safety with new AI

By identifying at-risk patients and informing care, Alabama’s Southeast Health Medical Center is making the case for the potential impact of AI on reducing hospital-acquired infections like sepsis.

Jeff Rowe | Feb 19, 2019 04:54 pm

While AI is having an impact on healthcare in an increasing variety of ways, one trend that is growing is hospitals using AI assets to prevent hospital-acquired infections.

At HIMSS19 in Orlando, last week, Lara L. McCall, director of case management at Alabama’s Southeast Health Medical Center, described in a session titled "Amplifying Primary Prevention with Artificial Intelligence” how Southeast staff are able to use the data they glean from AI to avoid health issues by identifying patients who are at risk for certain things like readmissions and sepsis.

Southeast’s primary current focus is on sepsis, as well as catheter associated UTIs and central line bloodstream infections.

According to McCall, their AI tool uses outside information from other agencies or institutions like past prescriptions, pharmacies, doctor's offices – in short, b any publicly reported data – to inform the patient's care when they walk through their doors. And since most patients are loyal to one system or facility, the tool can actually learn you, she said, much like Google does from your searches. It can even use your address to help inform your care based on demographics.

"The census date shows that in your area you have limited public transportation,” she explained. “There's only one primary care doctor listed within a 50 mile radius so you may have limited access to care. The median income there is low so they may have trouble paying for prescriptions (so) maybe you want to fill this patients prescriptions before discharge.”

She added that the introduction of the tool has already yielded notable gains in areas like reduction in patient days. They employ the tool earlier in the care episode/stay so that not only are they stopping the disease from progressing but the overall stay ends up being shorter, which equates to dollars saved.

Another benefit she pointed to is an improvement in pressure ulcer prevention, as well as a reduction in sepsis development after hospitalization.