Healthcare organizations are known for holding onto as much data as they can amass. And with good reason: With so many valuable insights and patterns able to be derived from all that patient information, more is more.

But health systems run into challenges when this data becomes unmanageable: disorganized and siloed, partially stored in dusty offices and outdated legacy systems. With more than 30% of the world’s data generated by health systems, it is impossible for overburdened IT teams to keep up.

The result is physicians and nurses losing valuable time sorting through irrelevant data and contributing to the burnout of hospital staff already spread too thin.

Most health IT experts agree artificial intelligence can help. But how?

Rick Bryant is healthcare chief technology officer at Veritas Technologies, a data optimization and performance company. We spoke with him to discuss why hospital IT leaders should look to AI to help solve data management challenges, how efficiencies with AI can lead to better patient outcomes, and actionable steps health IT administrators can take to streamline data sorting and analysis to provide more valuable insights for patient care, support IT teams and reduce staff burnout.

Q. You say hospital and health system IT leaders must look to AI to help solve data management challenges. Why AI?

A. The healthcare industry faces a unique set of issues that create a perfect storm of technical challenges. These challenges are not just the concern of IT departments. They also can inhibit nurses and physicians from doing their best, most efficient work when treating patients.

With more than 30% of the world’s data generated by health systems, it’s impossible for IT teams to keep up using manual processes alone, especially when they must work within limited budgets. AI and autonomous solutions are the best tools to integrate within hospital systems’ existing data management strategies because even the most basic investment in this technology can have a huge impact on ROI and efficiency.

AI speeds up and streamlines the process of analyzing, sorting and categorizing data so information can be appropriately deleted or archived. By pairing this technology with the guidance and expertise of IT staff, data management becomes less daunting for employees to handle alone.

IT also enables practitioners and hospital administration staff to more easily access and leverage data for practical uses.

In addition to creating operational efficiencies, AI can help eliminate human error in managing data and improve maintaining data compliance, which are critical for patient data. Healthcare is a highly regulated industry, and by combining the data expertise of IT staff and AI-powered management tools, hospitals and other healthcare organizations can meet regulatory requirements and deliver data efficiency benefits to frontline hospital staff.

Q. How exactly can efficiencies gained through the use of AI with data management challenges lead to better patient outcomes?

A. Health systems are notorious for holding on to data, and for good reason. Historic patient information holds valuable insights on a person’s health, so keeping old records is essential to providing the best care possible.

Healthcare workers spend a lot of time on mundane, administrative tasks like note taking, reporting and managing those past patient records to reference in current treatment plans. That’s time that could be spent with patients. AI tools free up this time by synthesizing patient records to provide the most relevant information to nurses and physicians at a fraction of the speed.

In this way, AI can contribute to reducing healthcare provider burnout by reducing the stress on clinicians and ensuring they have all the information they need to treat patients and make care decisions. This has a direct impact on patient outcomes and experience in hospitals, as the frontline staff can provide a better experience with this weight off their shoulders.

Taking a broader view, data efficiently organized across today’s increasingly multi-cloud infrastructure by AI-driven autonomous systems can be used to identify patterns that can lead to future discoveries and improvements in patient treatment.

For example, AI can analyze patient data to identify similarities in cases and treatment plans. These insights bring a data-backed perspective directly to frontline staff working on difficult diagnoses.

Q. Please lay out some actionable steps health IT leaders can take to streamline data sorting and analysis via AI to, as you say, provide more valuable insights for patient care, better support IT teams and reduce staff burnout.

A. Using AI-driven autonomous solutions to organize siloed data can have an enormous impact on health systems for employees on the frontlines and behind the scenes alike. The first step to implementing these tools is for leadership to evaluate their organizations’ current data management practices.

If data is spread across digital and physical records, it’s important to transfer copies to the cloud so it can be accessed by staff without the time-intensive task of rifling through hundreds – or thousands – of paper documents.

AI can be implemented alongside existing data management practices to synthesize and deduplicate redundant data and analyze what information is useful to keep readily available and what can be appropriately archived.

This streamlines the overwhelming amount of information that health systems manage on a daily basis by surfacing and connecting relevant details. Considering the individual level, this can help provide clinicians with a comprehensive view of a patient’s overall health and treatment plan quickly and easily, so they can make data-driven care decisions.

Cutting-edge technology like AI-driven autonomous data management solutions can augment IT staff in their day-to-day tasks, create operational efficiency for administrative employees and give care providers the most accurate patient information available.

By prioritizing healthy data management practices through the deployment of AI, IT leaders can make a huge impact on the day-to-day experiences across a healthcare organization.

Follow Bill’s HIT coverage on LinkedIn: Bill Siwicki
Email him: bsiwicki@himss.org
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.


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