UCSF, the Doctors Company partner for AI-powered patient safety project

The academic medical center and the physician-owned malpractice insurer will explore how AI can be integrated into the workflows of frontline clinicians to reduce errors, boost quality and safety and improve patient experience.
By Mike Miliard
04:05 PM
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Photo (detail) by Masur - own work, CC BY-SA 4.0.

UC San Francisco and the Doctors Company are collaborating on a new $1 million initiative to explore how artificial intelligence can improve care delivery and patient safety.

WHY IT MATTERS
The Doctors Company, a physician-run provider of medical malpractice insurance, will work with UCSF researchers on the development of evidence-based patient safety practices, officials said – focusing ways to apply health information technology, specifically AI, new and innovative approaches to quality improvement.

"The Doctors Company insures 82,000 physicians in the U.S. and has a rare window into the causes of medical errors and strategies to mitigate them," explained Robert Wachter, MD, chair of UCSF's Department of Medicine and a member of the Doctors Company's Board of Governors.

"By leveraging UCSF’s world-class research community, we believe that we can develop new insights into safety hazards and strategies to keep patients safe," he said.

THE LARGER TREND
The two organizations see the AI – alongside the ongoing maturity of electronic health records, medical apps and sensors – as big opportunities to find new approaches to long-standing safety risks such a misdiagnosis and medication errors.

The UCSF team is led by two well-known associate professors of medicine: Julia Adler-Milstein and Urmimala Sarkar, MD. With support from the Doctors Company, they'll research best practices for integrating AI tools into clinical workflows.

Among the challenges they say they'll target: physician burnout, alert fatigue, EHR optimization, data sharing and patient engagement and experience.

"The primary goal of the partnership is to discover and disseminate new insights into risk mitigation strategies and patient safety by connecting top-tier UCSF researchers and unique resources and expertise from The Doctors Company," said Adler-Milstein. "It is a rare and exciting opportunity to have two such organizations come together to jointly advance such an important area."

ON THE RECORD
"We are proud to partner with a world-class institution like UCSF in a mission-based collaboration that has the power to improve medical outcomes in the transformative sphere of digital healthcare," said Richard E. Anderson, MD, chairman and chief executive officer of The Doctors Company.

Dr. Sarkar sees a the initiative as a "valuable opportunity to learn more about errors in diagnosis for outpatient physicians across a range of practice settings, and to find creative ways to improve medical practice."

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Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com

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