10 Promising AI Applications in Health Care

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There’s a lot of excitement right now about how artificial intelligence (AI) is going to change health care. And many AI technologies are cropping up to help people streamline administrative and clinical health care processes. According to venture capital firm Rock Health, 121 health AI and machine learning companies raised $2.7 billion in 206 deals between 2011 and 2017.

The field of health AI is seemingly wide—covering wellness to diagnostics to operational technologies—but it is also narrow in that health AI applications typically perform just a single task. We investigated the value of 10 promising AI applications and found that they could create up to $150 billion in annual savings for U.S. health care by 2026.

We identified these specific AI applications based on how likely adoption was and what potential exists for annual savings. We found AI currently creates the most value in

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How Hurricane Harvey Spurred a Houston Hospital to Rethink Emergency Care

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Lyndon B. Johnson General Hospital, a county-funded, safety net institution in economically disadvantaged northeast Houston, is the sole hospital to provide inpatient, obstetric, and emergency care for nearly 25% of the city’s land area. Although it remained open for operations during Hurricane Harvey in late August 2017, the storm caused significant moisture damage to its infrastructure, necessitating the closure of more than half of its 200 inpatient beds for several months after the storm.

The hospital’s emergency department (ED) continued to provide effective emergency care to the community — many of whose members had substantially increased need for medical care after the hurricane. To do that, the ED, which already operated with the resource constraints of crowding (more patients than treatment spaces) and boarding (insufficient inpatient beds, which requires patients to stay in the ED until beds are available), had to undergo sweeping changes almost overnight.

Six months later, largely as a result

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To Enlist Physicians in Reducing Costs, Show Them the Costs

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In a recent speech, Alex Azar, the U.S. secretary of health and human services, said, “There is no more powerful force than an informed consumer.” What about an informed provider? If health systems are truly going to improve the value of the care they deliver, they need to enlist doctors in the effort. According to a national survey conducted by University of Utah Health, 89% of physicians believe the overall cost of health care in this country is too high. Now we need to give doctors a chance at engaging in the conversation by developing tools to make cost transparent to them.

For the past five years, University of Utah Health has been working on a tool that does just that. Its Value Driven Outcomes (VDO) initiative provides physicians with cost data to assess health outcomes per dollar spent. VDO is a modular, extensible framework

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a16z Video: Shifting Risk Mindsets, from Tech to Bio

What challenges do first-time founders or tech founders encounter when building companies in the bio space, and how does it differ from traditional tech companies? In this hallway-style conversation, a16z bio team partners — including general partners Jorge Conde and …

How One Hospital Improved Patient Handoffs for the Long Term

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Roughly 80% of serious medical errors (now the third leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer) can be traced to poor communication between care providers during patient handoffs, according to a 2012 Joint Commission report. This makes patient handoffs the most frequent and riskiest procedure in the hospital.

Despite the development of numerous techniques and tools to structure patient handoffs and improve the transfer of communication, we haven’t seen much improvement in reducing medical errors. The problem is two-fold: first, hospital administrators and managers struggle to effectively implement these tools. Second, they struggle to sustain change that’s made.

The perioperative unit at Midland Memorial Hospital (MMH) in Texas was in precisely that situation. Leaders noticed that the majority of patient handoffs had some level of missing information. While missing information was often not critically important or time-sensitive (e.g., patient

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How to Accelerate the Adoption of Digital Health Technology

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In 1997, health information technology and digital health pioneer Warner Slack wrote his bold and prophetic book, Cybermedicine: How Computing Empowers Doctors and Patients for Better Care. Slack argued that “the electronic digital computer, with its capacity to hold large amounts of data and to execute multiple complex instructions and accuracy would…find an important clinical role in both diagnosis and treatment.”

While the digitization of health information has solved many problems in American medicine — particularly, helping to reduce medical errors by enhancing clinical decision support — it has inevitably created many new ones. Clinician-oriented solutions such as electronic health records (EHRs) are contributing to physician burnout instead of facilitating patient care. Many anticipated that health information technology would reduce costs by limiting the duplication of tests and studies, but there is little evidence that it has accomplished this. And while patient-oriented digital solutions have proliferated in

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Can’t-miss advice on funding a health care startup (VB Live)


VB LIVE: The potential to disrupt health care with technology at scale is huge. It just takes a venture capital partner, paired with your own expertise in health tech. Join this webinar to learn how VC partnerships can help you navigate through the regulations and complicated nature of health care, and get your startup thriving. Register here for f…Read More

Can’t-miss advice on funding a health care startup (VB Live)


VB LIVE: The potential to disrupt health care with technology at scale is huge. It just takes a venture capital partner, paired with your own expertise in health tech. Join this webinar to learn how VC partnerships can help you navigate through the regulations and complicated nature of health care, and get your startup thriving. Register here for f…Read More

The Best Flu Prevention Might Be Behavioral Economics

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Alongside popular misconceptions that healthy people do not need the flu shot and myths about the harmful side effects of the vaccine, numerous studies have shown that one of the biggest reasons people don’t get vaccinated is that a physician never recommends it. (Eighty percent of patients say they would be more likely to get a vaccination if a health care provider recommended it.)

How can we get more care providers to recommend vaccinations? Luckily, there’s a cheap, effective way: “nudging” them to do so by making subtle changes to the context in which they make decisions. Flu vaccinations are a case in point.

Ultimately, the flu could end up infecting more than 30 million Americans this season (October 2017 through April 2018), resulting in more than 50,000 deaths across all age groups, $11.6 billion in health care costs, and 111 million lost workdays.

Although the vaccine’s effectiveness

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a16z Video: Eroom’s Law

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Moore’s Law transformed computing through decreased costs, but Eroom’s Law — “Moore” spelled backwards — is the opposite: Much of the costs in bio (drugs etc.) have been exponentially increasing in cost. So where do the …

a16z Video: What to Make of Consolidation in Healthcare?

watch time: 8 minutes

Healthcare headlines have been all around consolidation in the industry: Walmart and Humana; Aetna and CVS; Amazon, JP Morgan, and Berkshire Hathaway.

In this hallway-style conversation, a16z bio team partners — Jorge Conde and Vijay Pande, …

Why Apps for Managing Chronic Disease Haven’t Been Widely Used, and How to Fix It

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HBR Staff

In an era where nearly every consumer good and service — from books and groceries to babysitting and shared rides — can be purchased through an electronic transaction on a mobile device, it seems reasonable to think that more and more of our health care can also be managed using apps on mobile devices. Proponents of these apps see the potential of digital technologies to shift care provision from physicians’ offices and hospitals to the patient’s home or anywhere with reasonable Wi-Fi connectivity.

The potential benefits of digital health seem particularly compelling for managing chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. In these cases, providers typically prescribe multipart protocols — including medications, dietary restrictions, and exercise — whose success depends on patient compliance and choices that take place on a daily basis outside of the formal health care system. Chronic diseases are prevalent, affecting roughly 120 million Americans, and take a large

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Virtual Health Care Could Save the U.S. Billions Each Year

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The conventional wisdom that the best care is delivered in-person by experienced caregivers may soon be overturned. Rising health care costs, a shortage of physicians, and an aging population are making the traditional model of care increasingly unsustainable. But new uses of virtual health and digital technologies may help the industry manage these challenges. A number of new technologies are helping to move elements of patient care from medical workers to machines and to patients themselves, allowing health care organizations to reduce costs by reducing labor intensity.

Virtual health refers to the use of enabling technology — such as video, mobile apps, text-based messaging, sensors, and social platforms — to deliver health services in a way that is independent of time or location. We believe uses of virtual health hold potential to boost the capacity of primary care doctors — without adding or training more

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Health Care Is an Investment, and the U.S. Should Start Treating It Like One

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We invest billions of dollars each year in medicines, new technologies, doctors, and hospitals — all with the goal of improving health, arguably our most prized commodity. Yet, investments in the U.S. health care system woefully underperform relative to those made in health care in other countries. For instance, the U.S. spends nearly 7–10% more of its national income on health care than other similar countries and yet life expectancy at birth remains, on average, two to three years lower.

To be sure, many factors influence health outcomes and the investments the health care system makes are only one input. But a large reason why investments in health care underperform is because we invest so much in services that are clearly low-value — i.e., offer little or no clinical benefit relative to the cost — and likely many more where the returns are gray. Investing limited health

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To Combat Physician Burnout and Improve Care, Fix the Electronic Health Record

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After a blizzard of hype surrounding the electronic health record (EHR), health professionals are now in full backlash mode against this complex new tool. They are rightly seen as a major cause of professional burnout among physicians and nurses: Clinicians are spending almost half their professional time typing, clicking, and checking boxes on electronic records. They can and must be made into useful, easy-to-use tools that liberate, rather than oppress, clinicians.

Performing several tasks, badly. The EHR is a lot more than merely an electronic version of the patient’s chart. It has also become the control panel for managing the clinical encounter through clinician order entry. Moreover, through billing and regulatory compliance, it has also become a focal point of quality-improvement efforts. While some of these efforts actually have improved quality and patient safety, many others served merely to “buff up the note” to make the clinician look

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