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Admin and ethics should be the basis of your healthcare strategy

March 6, 2024

Technology continues to play a strong role in shaping healthcare. In 2023, the focus was on how Artificial Intelligence (AI) became significantly entrenched in patient records, diagnosis and care. Now in 2024 the focus is on the ethical aspects of AI.  Many organisations including practitioner groups, hospitals and medical associations are putting together AI Codes of Conduct, with new legislation planning to be passed in countries such as the USA.

The entire patient journey has benefited from the use of AI, in tangible ways that we can understand. From online bookings, the sharing of information with electronic health records, keyword diagnosis, sharing of visual scans, e-scripts, easy claims, SMS’s and billing, are all examples of how software systems are incorporated into practices to facilitate a streamlined experience for both the patient and doctor. *But although 75% of medical professionals agree on the transformation abilities of AI, only 6% have implemented an AI strategy. 

Strategies need to include ethical considerations 

CompuGroup Medical South Africa, (CGM SA), a leading international MedTech company that has spent over 20 years designing software solutions for the healthcare industry, has identified one main area that seems to constantly be the topic for ethical consideration. 

This is the sharing of patient electronic health records or EHR’s. On one hand the wealth of information provided in each EHR - from a patient’s medical history, demographics, their laboratory test results over time, medicine prescribed, a history of medical procedures, X-rays to any medical allergies - offers endless opportunities for real time patient care. On the other hand, there seems to be a basic mistrust of how these records will be shared and stored, no one wants their personal medical information to end up on the internet.  

But there’s also the philosophical view that although you might not want your info to be public record, it still has the ability to benefit the care of thousands of people. If we want a learning AI system that adapts as we do, if we want a decision-making support system that is informed by past experiences, then the sharing of data should be viewed as a tool and no longer a privacy barrier.

Admin can cause burnout

Based on their interactions with professionals, CGM has informally noted that healthcare practices spend 73% of their time dealing with administrative tasks. This can be broken down into 38% focusing on EHR documentation and review, 19% related to insurance and billing, 11% on tests, medications and other orders and the final 6% on clinical planning and logistics.  

Even during the consultation doctors can spend up to 40% of their time taking clinical notes. Besides the extra burden that this places on health care practices, this also leads to less attention being paid to the patient and still requires 1-2 hours of admin in the evenings. (Admin being the number one cause of burnout in clinicians and too much screen time during interactions being the number one complaint by patients.)  

The solution 

The ability for medical practitioners to implement valuable and effective advanced technical software, such as Autoscriber, will assist with time saving, data quality and overall job satisfaction. Autoscriber is an AI engine designed to ease the effort required when creating clinical notes by turning the consultation between patient and doctor into a structured summary that includes ICD-10 codes which is the standard method of classification of diseases used by South African medical professionals     

It identifies clinical facts in real time, including medications and symptoms. It then orders and summarises the data in a format ready for import into the EHR, creating a more detailed and standardised report on each patient encounter, allowing for a more holistic patient outcome. In essence, with the introduction of Autoscriber into the South African market, CGM seeks to aid practitioners in swiftly creating precise and efficient clinical records, saving them from extensive after-hours commitments. 

Dilip Naran, VP of Product Architecture at CGM SA explains: “It is clear that AI will not replace healthcare professionals, but it will augment their capabilities to provide superior patient care. Ethical considerations are important but should not override patient care or safety. The Autoscriber solution provides full control to the HCP to use, edit or discard the transcribed note ensuring that these notes are comprehensive, attributable and contemporaneous.” 

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