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Part Two: The Role of Technology in Healthcare

The previous article in this series introduced the concepts of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Expert Systems (ES), and Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM). The application of these Health IT software and hardware solutions into medical care was accelerated by the current global pandemic. The literature has volumes of data which demonstrate the clinical utility of such systems.

For example, AI-based chatbots have the potential to screen patients for hereditary cancer risk using a rules-based ES. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) publishes guidelines for patients who may meet the criteria for genetic screening for hereditary cancer risk. In this case, a chatbot interface (via mobile health app or Internet) can ask a patient personal and family history questions about cancer. The interface may include a human avatar and uses patient-friendly language, thus making the interaction seem more like a conversation with a person. Depending on the patient’s answers to these questions, the chatbot can determine who should be offered hereditary cancer genetic screening. Chatbots may be updated as new guidelines are published to reflect the most current medical recommendations. Studies have shown chatbots engage patients, provide education, and facilitate a referral that may include the option of genetic testing.

AI also has applications in digital pathology. Pathologists are physicians trained to examine tissue and/or bodily fluids to identify disease progression. Because pathologists visually inspect specimens on slides under a microscope, the images may be digitized and processed by ML optical software. One meta-analysis of over 10,000 specimens among 25 studies showed a 98.3% concordance rate between digital and human pathological evaluations. The College of American Pathologists has guidelines regarding the validation and use of AI technologies for digital pathology.

AI technologies may also be applied to insurance, reimbursement, and prior authorization, as well as clinical patient care. The prior authorization process has been previously described as cumbersome, tedious, and slow if performed manually by a person. CMT Solutions’ databases for prior authorization uses ES-based decision algorithms which increases efficiency and lowers turnaround time for patients and physicians. Additionally, it substantially reduces the manual labor that has traditionally been a part of the prior authorization process.

The applications described are just a few examples of the numerous ways AI can positively impact healthcare, both clinically and economically. However, the promises of these new technologies also come with the responsibilities to execute and apply them in a lawful, ethical, and equitable manner. Our final article will review the ethical challenges and opportunities that go hand in hand with the ushering in of AI technologies.

About CMT

CMT offers combined expertise in laboratory, technology solutions, and HUB services to help both patients and physicians. We are the market leader in molecular diagnostic patient access, offering prior authorizations, benefits investigation, notifications, and more. Learn more about our products and how we can help your business today!

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