How one health system developed AI to tackle patient safety

Photo: Brownie Harris/Getty Images

Sheeba Medical Center is focused on using artificial intelligence to transform statistics on patient safety.

Chief Transformation and Innovation Officer of Sheba Medical Center, located on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, Prof. Dr. Eyal Zimlichman said, “In terms of patient safety, we haven’t made any progress in the last 30 years.”

After seeing a report on these findings, Zimlichman said he and his team realized two things: This was a huge challenge; and that they “had no clue how to handle it”.

Zimlichman, who has also served as the health system’s CMO since 2017, turned to digital health technology to tackle patient safety.

Zimlichman leads the Excelerate Redesign Collaborate (ARC) Innovation Center in Sheba, one of the largest health systems in the Middle East with nearly 2,000 beds. ARC focuses on Precision Medicine, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Predictive Analytics, Telemedicine and Mobile Health.

In 2016, ARC launched Aidoc to help physicians read CT scans. According to Zimlichman, it has been implemented in 1,000 hospitals with 800 hospitals located in the United States.

Adoc is being used, for example, to more accurately predict strokes. He said physicians have to read a few hundred CT scans a night, which can delay interpretation and treatment of such conditions.

“By introducing an AI solution to read those scans, if a CT scan has a suspected stroke,[it]can read more accurately and much faster than traditional methods,” Zimlikman said. “Anything like that lowers the mortality rate. You’re able to start therapy.”

Zimlichman said Aidoc can also predict pulmonary embolism in the lungs and other life-threatening conditions.

Beyond the benefits to quality of care, there are cost savings and efficiencies in being able to interpret more scans. It also helps in reducing the workforce shortage of radiologists. Treating conditions earlier reduces the length of stay and the cost of rehabilitation and acute care, he said.

Zimlichman believes the big picture for innovation is the transformation from illness to wellness.

“We are looking to transform from a home for the sick to a city of health,” he said. “This is the future for hospitals.”

Zimlichman is a graduate of the Harvard School of Public Health Care Management Master of Science program and previously worked for Mass General Brigham, where he placed a large emphasis on quality and patient safety.

“One of the biggest challenges is the ability to provide high quality of care,” he said. “A quarter of people who come to the hospital are injured. That’s why we have to turn to innovation.”

why does it matter

He said that change does not mean just working hard, but also redesigning the system.

First, problems must be addressed from the physician side, Zimlichman said.

To do this, there has to be a culture for innovation.

“We talk a lot about biological innovation,” he said. “There needs to be a system and processes in place to provide the necessary support to take those ideas forward. He is moving forward as a prototype.”

The money spent often comes back in the form of savings at the hospital.

Another benefit is reducing burnout.

“We’ve found that innovation is a great way to deal with burnout,” Zimlichman said. “Physicians love to innovate.” At the end of the day, it’s so much more than just seeing another patient, another patient, another patient. They need to find an outlet.”

big trend

The next Edoc challenge is a complete bedside solution for performing echocardiography by a primary care provider or nurse instead of sending the patient to a cardiologist. It also allows for faster reading, treatment and quality improvement.

“This is a recent development that we will be bringing to the United States in the next few months,” Zimlichan said.

Moving the needle is always a struggle, he said.

Innovation needs the right leadership to make it a focus for our organizations.

It’s not just for large health systems, he said, because a lot of change isn’t a big expense. It may not even include technology.

Hospitals need to align with healthy food supermarkets or find the right partnerships like working with Lyft, Uber or other ride shares to transport patients.

“There is something,” he said, “called an innovation culture.”

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the author: [email protected]

Leave a Comment