Implementing innovation with ethics in mind

It’s no secret that artificial intelligence and virtual technologies are quickly changing the patient experience. Today, provider organizations are grappling with questions about the best ways to integrate these tools into the practice.

“Historically, we focused on human innovations in healthcare to really drive patient experience, but we are now not only focusing on human factors like communication skills, training and nursing interventions, … but also looking at technology,” Susannah Rose, director of patient experience research at the Cleveland Clinic, said.

At the Cleveland Clinic, AI and virtual care technologies have already come into play when delivering care.

“We have found that over 90% of patients using this type of care feel it is as good as an in-person encounter with their clinicians, and over 50% feel it is better than an in-person encounter with their physician. This is an important finding because, I’ll be honest, I was a little bit of a cynic. I did not think there was anyway a virtual encounter would be perceived as better than an in-person one let alone by over half the people that use it.”

Evidence and patient feedback have turned Rose’s views on virtual care. However, she urges systems to have protections in place when implementing tech initiatives. She will be exploring this further during a presentation at HIMSS20 in March.

“I’m a true believer in the potential for the technology, particularly when it comes to experience, but we want to make sure we are putting guard rails around these uses to make sure that the data we are using is being used in ethical ways, and is aligned with patients’ best interests,” she said. “Also, [we need to make sure] we are using these technologies in ways that will enhance experience and will help improve things such as healthcare disparities and other things that we can see as healthcare challenges, and we will not perpetuate this problem.”

Today there are more and more conversations taking place across the country about how to ethically use patients’ data to improve technologies such as AI and machine learning.

People [being] aware of how that information is being used and integrated is a key part of AI,” she said. “If you think about AI there is a lot of misconceptions about its usage and the technology in general. But if you take the uses of AI — image recognition and pattern recognition — these things are quite innovative. But we really haven’t looked and tested how these technologies are being misused and [if] are they actually achieving the goals they say they are going to, and secondly, if they do achieve those goals such as improving outcomes and reducing challenges and risks. Is it driving to improving patient experience? Is it fostering empathy in healthcare?”

Rose said it’s important for hospital executives and stakeholders to fully understand the technology in order to effectively lead.

“I think the most critical aspect of this is healthcare leaders need to be very thoughtful and knowledgeable about AI, ML and these other technologies. In order to do that, they need to be informed about the risks and benefits research needs to be done.”

Susannah Rose will share some of Cleveland Clinic’s best practices at HIMSS20 in a session titled “Finding Solutions Before Problems: AI, Ethics and Experience” on Friday, March 13, at 10:45 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. in room W303A. 

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