Industry Insights From a Leader in Artificial Intelligence

Industry Insights From a Leader in Artificial Intelligence

As part of a new interview series with healthcare leaders across the country, the Olive team had the chance to interview Dr. Aziz Nazha about the biggest challenges facing healthcare today and the growing potential of AI. Previous to his current role as Director, Center of Clinical Artificial Intelligence at Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Nazha completed a hematology and medical oncology fellowship, also at Cleveland Clinic, and a leukemia fellowship at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center where he served as an instructor in the Leukemia Department.

Q: To begin, we know that you are currently leading the Center for Clinical Artificial Intelligence at the Cleveland Clinic. Can you give us a high-level overview of what you’re working on there?

We launched the center in March of 2019 and the whole mission of the center is to harness the power of artificial intelligence in healthcare, but really we envision the center becoming a hub of collaboration between academia and industry to bring the best of technology to healthcare to build models that can actually make a difference in our patients lives and in medical research. That was the whole purpose of the center – we built a platform for collaboration both inside and outside of Cleveland Clinic. 

I’m a physician – I treat patients with cancer and my specialities are leukemia, particularly myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), but also a programmer because we program all of our models in house to develop what we call physician data scientists – physicians who actually see patients in a clinical practice and are able to understand code and develop the machine learning and deep learning models. My team now consists of medical students, residents and fellows who we’ve taught to code and use the technologies of everything we develop. At the moment we have 24 ongoing projects, 12-13 in cancer space and others in medicine, medical operations, ICU, some genomic projects, as well as new conversations about cardiology projects – we’re continuously expanding and adding more projects. 

Q:  Can you tell us a little bit about the new course at Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner College of Medicine that’s focusing on integrating artificial intelligence into the curriculum?

As you know and experience yourself [at Olive], AI talent is difficult to find. And if you talk about people that understand the complexities of healthcare data compared to other industries – that’s extremely difficult to find. Why is healthcare behind in the adoption and application of AI?  The simplest answer is you have individuals that don’t speak the same language trying to understand each other. So, the biggest problem for AI today in healthcare is that you have computer scientists and statisticians who can look at models, understand the models but don’t necessarily understand the clinical implications of that. And they’re speaking to healthcare providers, physicians or nurses for instance, and they understand the clinical implications but don’t understand the algorithms. The whole purpose of what we’re doing is to bridge this gap and have people speak the same language. And of course, the best way to find this talent is to build it – so, it’s why we put out these 3 courses.

[To build this talent] you really have to start from Medical School –  we want to help students understand the technology and most importantly use it in their work. So, these courses teach students about python, machine learning, deep learning, and of course all applications for healthcare. The last module is emerging technologies, cloud computing, internet of things and their application in healthcare. And really we have brilliant students that continue to blow me away by what they can do, and say they’ll consider using this in their research throughout medical school.

 

Q: Although you’re focused in the clinical space, how do you see artificial intelligence playing a role in other functional areas?

The applications of AI are widely used, and the center lies under what we call enterprise analytics: the financial arm, and also the operational arm which is medical operations. I think there’s always an intersection between all these applications. When I think about AI, AI becomes a tool that gets me to where I need to go, and most of the time – or actually all of the time – if I’m posed with a question, and if I can’t answer that question using linear algebra or traditional statistics, our focus is solving these problems with AI.

One of the projects which will be helpful in the future is around no-shows, for example and building models around no-shows. Can we learn something from AI about why a patient doesn’t come back? If we take the clinical data, we can learn if a patient showed up, or did not show up. What we really need to do is take that data and compare it to other data like a baseball game, or a football game for instance, especially in Cleveland, and that will give you much better of an idea on why they didn’t show because previously you were missing other parts of information. The opportunity for AI is huge. The problem is people using this technology in the wrong way or overselling the technology, that’s a great example of IBM Watson, and we don’t want that. Taking these models and making the data explainable, focusing on explainable AI, so physicians can easily understand and adopt – I think that’s the whole key for the success of AI in healthcare.

Q: If you could eliminate one of the healthcare industry’s challenges overnight, which one would it be and why?

Anytime I give a talk about AI in healthcare, I always leave the audience on this note, “The lightbulb was not invented by continuous improvement of candles.” So, in order for us to really advance healthcare, we need to completely change the way we think about healthcare and how we do research today, and everytime we say that, people get excited. But to actually do that is really, really difficult. That’s the challenge – change gets people out of their comfort zone, and the way that they practice. It’s both the challenge and the opportunity. It takes a lot of time and patience. 


Q:
We saw that you recently rode in VeloSano to support cancer research, what motivates you to participate in that event? 

I’m a cancer doctor and I’m also a researcher, so VeloSano funded my ride, and that fund was very helpful for us. Ultimately, I ride for my patients. I am not a biker, but I became one and love biking now because of VeloSano. I’m hoping next year I can do 25-50 miles. 

 

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Four Ways Hospitals Are Cutting Administrative Costs: Part 2

Four Ways Hospitals Are Cutting Administrative Costs: Part 2

In this four-part series, we are sharing four common ways that healthcare organizations are attempting to manage the ever-growing administrative workload. In Part 1, we discussed the option of hiring more employees to tackle these duties. Unfortunately, that model is unsustainable and doesn’t address the root cause of the issue – the mountain of administrative work that defines modern healthcare. 

One promising solution, and one that many hospitals and health systems are working towards, is using technology to lessen the administrative burden and associated costs.

 

New Technology Can Streamline Administrative Processes And Increase Efficiency.

When we think of healthcare technology, we often think about the “sexy” innovations and breakthroughs like robot-assisted surgeries or remote patient monitoring devices. But technology can have a revolutionary impact on healthcare administration, too. By streamlining repetitive tasks, technology has the ability to increase efficiency, reduce time spent on administrative work, and even boost revenue by reducing human error.

For example, patient scheduling software has optimized physician schedules while reducing patient wait time. Many of these softwares automatically send out patient reminder emails or phone calls, reducing cancellations and no-shows. 

There is also inventory management software that tracks inventory, alerting hospital staff to shortages and expirations while also reducing the amount of inventory needed on-hand. 

But one of the most promising advances in healthcare administration technology is artificial intelligence and robotic process automation. Because so much of the administrative burden comes from data input overload from multiple systems, artificial intelligence can automate these mundane, but business-critical administrative tasks with speed, accuracy and ease.

Not All Technologies Are Equal. Make Sure The One You Choose Meets All Of Your Needs.

While health system leaders are increasingly turning to technology, there are many who delay embracing innovation or are afraid to be “first adopters.” Unfortunately, this is often due to bad experiences with new technologies in the past. 

There are lots of ways technology can go wrong: after all, EHRs were supposed to reduce administrative work by keeping all patient data in one place. Obviously, this didn’t go as planned. With system updates, employee training, interoperability problems, and regulatory and compliance needs, new technology can sometimes become more trouble than it’s worth without the right approach.

To make sure that a new technology actually streamlines operations and administrative work, you need to carefully evaluate the solution and the vendor. Choosing healthcare-specific vendors and “as-a-service” models are both good ways to mitigate your technology risk. 

That’s because healthcare-specific vendors understand the industry’s unique needs and security requirements, and they should have proven results at other, similar organizations. And choosing “as-a-service” models reduces upfront costs, sets a clear path to ROI, and ensures you will always have an up-to-date solution that works. 

Here at Olive, we believe that technology, specifically artificial intelligence and robotic process automation, are the best solutions for a healthcare organization looking to reduce the administrative burden. Technology can and should have a favorable ROI as well as other positive downstream effects on employee morale and patient satisfaction. But we know it’s not the only solution that healthcare systems are evaluating. 

That’s why we wrote the eBook 6 Ways to Cut the Staggering Cost of Healthcare Administration. Download it today for free to learn more about how other healthcare systems are addressing this problem and the pros and cons of each way, so you can figure out which is right for you and your organization. 

Four Ways Hospitals Are Cutting Administrative Costs: Part 1

Four Ways Hospitals Are Cutting Administrative Costs: Part 1

Four Ways Hospitals Are Cutting Administrative Costs: Part 1

Healthcare is becoming increasingly unaffordable – for patients, payers, and providers. And while there are many interrelated factors contributing to the problem, no one can deny that administrative costs have become unsustainable – the latest research has put the total cost of healthcare administration at $1.1 trillion dollars and growing. 

So how can hospitals and healthcare systems work to reverse this trend, helping not only their own financials but also the industry as a whole? 

In this blog series, we are going to take a look at four of the ways healthcare organizations are tackling their most costly administrative challenges. In this first part of the series, we are examining the strategy of hiring more administrative employees to handle the growing workload.

Why Hiring More People to Solve The Growing Healthcare Administrative Problem is Unsustainable

As the mountain of paperwork and administrative work increases, many healthcare systems hire additional employees or shift employee time to managing these repetitive tasks. But when your healthcare system grows, the administrative workload increases with it, and more and more employees are needed to handle the burden.

Not only does each employee add to your payroll costs, but there are other, more hidden, costs as well. Much of these administrative tasks are simple data processing – copying data from one screen or system into another. As employees become little more than data routers instead of valued contributors to organizational success, the inevitable human error that occurs in these processes lead to costly rework and even more time spent on administration. 

Back office employees know that administrative work is part of their job, but it extends to the front line of care as well. Doctors, nurses, and other clinical staff are spending increasing amounts of time on data entry and less time with the people who matter most – the patients. It’s no surprise that in this environment, healthcare employees feel burnt out and hospitals are struggling with turnover.

Low morale, high churn, and unfilled positions hurt your financials and result in lower quality of care. And as you lose employees and struggle to hire new ones, the backlog of administrative tasks continues to grow, leading to a vicious cycle. Without a strategy to actually reduce time spent on administration, hiring more people does not address the root problem. But if hiring more people doesn’t work, what are other solutions to the problem of cutting costs? 

You can check back in with us next week for Part 2 of the series, where we’re going to discuss innovative technologies that healthcare systems are leveraging. Want more information now? Read the eBook 6 Ways to Cut the Staggering Cost of Healthcare Administration to learn how others are tackling the growing healthcare administrative burden.

5 Questions For Identifying Candidate Processes For Automation

5 Questions For Identifying Candidate Processes For Automation

Artificial intelligence and robotic process automation can optimize repetitive workflows, increase efficiencies, benefit your bottom line, and improve employee morale. But with so many options and solutions on the market, how do you know where to start?

One of the key steps in building your business case for AI and automation at your healthcare organization is identifying processes that are good candidates for automation. Here are five questions to ask yourself to help you figure out which processes to consider for automation technologies.

 

1. Is it a High-volume, Repetitive Task?

Not every task can or should be automated, and that isn’t the goal of AI and RPA. The purpose of automation is to take repetitive, high-volume tasks and offload them to a digital employee, freeing up your human employees for more complex, more rewarding work. Any task that is time-consuming, requires a lot of manual effort, and is done in a similar way each time is a perfect candidate process for automation.

2. How Many Man Hours Does a Process Take?

To maximize impact, you want to automate tasks that take a meaningful amount of time. The best way to do that is to calculate total hours spent on a process by all of your employees. Ask employees how they’re spending their time each day, tally up the totals for individual processes, and identify which are the most time-consuming as an organization.

Are you a small organization? You don’t have to be a large health system to recognize the benefits of automation. A good rule of thumb is that once a process requires four full-time employees, it is worth considering for automation.

3. What Business Processes Would Benefit From Increased Speed, Capacity, and Accuracy?

Besides freeing up human employees, automation can also complete tasks faster and more accurately than humans – for instance, a digital employee works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, without any breaks or errors. Any process where speed, capacity, and accuracy would benefit your organization should be a candidate for process automation. Processes found in claim denial management, supply chain, and patient credentialing are often the best areas to begin.

 

4. What Bottlenecks Are Impacting Your Operations?

Every organization has them – a pile of administrative tasks that never seems to get done. It can create a bottleneck that impacts the entire workforce. For example, is accounts receivable chronically behind? Automation can eliminate bottlenecks, enabling your employees to complete their other work more efficiently and effectively, so your whole organization can run more smoothly.

5. What Transaction-based Work Impacts Your Employees Time to Deliver a Better Patient Experience?

One of the greatest benefits of automation is that it can optimize your human workforce. For your employees,  it can mean the freedom to do what they do best – think creatively, solve complex problems, and most importantly, focus on delivering the best possible patient experience. The healthcare industry strives to deliver a superior patient experience.  It is critical to ask, “What transaction-based work holds back my employees from delivering that promise?”

Need More Guidance on Automation?

Identifying potential candidates for automation is just part of the process – you need a road map that takes your hospital all the way from idea to AI implementation. 

Our white paper, Build the Business Case for Intelligent Automation, helps you develop a clear path from idea to implementation, helping you identify candidate processes for automation and better understand how to take action. Download the white paper today to learn more.

What Is Workflow Automation In Healthcare?

What Is Workflow Automation In Healthcare?

Workflow automation is exactly what it sounds like. Using technology to automate repetitive workflows, organizations can dramatically streamline and standardize high-volume workflows to improve efficiency in almost every industry, including healthcare.

As a healthcare technology, workflow automation is critical to organizational success. That’s because health systems today have more programs, disparate systems and data requirements than ever before. And while these systems have great promise and potential, the benefits are often outweighed by the time and effort required to manage them. That’s where workflow automation comes in.

By decreasing manual effort, reducing errors, increasing capacity and speeding up many of the administrative processes weighing down our healthcare organizations, the industry has already seen enormous benefits from the efficiencies of workflow automation.

 

Workflow Automation and Artificial Intelligence

Advances in artificial intelligence technologies, such as computer vision (CV) and machine learning (ML), have greatly increased the number of potential candidate workflows that can be automated. Before CV and ML, workflow automation was limited to simple tasks that could be handled by robotic process automation (RPA). But with CV and ML, artificial intelligence can use computer vision for more sophisticated data recognition and can actually learn and improve processes through historical data. 

What are some of the candidate processes that workflow automation and artificial intelligence are tackling? Patient scheduling, revenue cycle management, IT, billing, supply chain, inventory management, and human resources are just a few of the areas that are already benefiting from artificial intelligence and workflow automation technology. But there are too many capabilities to mention, and more possible candidate processes for automation  are being developed every day.

Benefits of Workflow Automation in Healthcare

Already, workflow automation technology has the potential to completely overhaul your healthcare information management processes, reducing staff burnout, increasing revenue, and improving interoperability.

Reduces Staff Burnout
Staff burnout hurts morale, patients, and the bottom line. By reducing the time spent by clinical and non-clinical staff on manual, repetitive workflows, healthcare employees can focus on higher level initiatives that require a human touch and creativity. For example, it can take over the entire claim status check process, freeing up staff to address more complicated billing cycle issues. 

Effective Cost Containment
Wouldn’t it be great to implement a cost containment strategy that actually improved operations, instead of trying to cut overhead or negotiate pennies on supply costs? With workflow automation, organizations can reduce the operational inefficiencies that lead to waste throughout the system. For example, it reduces claims denials by eliminating human error and drastically increasing capacity.

Improves Interoperability
Healthcare desperately needs interoperability, but with dozens of siloed programs and legacy systems, everyone struggles to achieve it. By automating the pull and entry of data from one program to another, without having to add yet another system, complete interoperability is closer to reality with the assistance of AI and workflow automation as it becomes a key Epic integration tool with other EMR and EHR technologies.  

 

Data Security and Workflow Automation

Data security should always be top-of-mind for any healthcare leader evaluating a new technology. We’ve talked before about the importance of working with technology vendors who are healthcare-specific, and workflow automation vendors are no exception – it’s the best way to ensure critical healthcare data security. 

Workflow automation can help increase data security at your organization, as many security and privacy vulnerabilities are due to human interaction. By reducing the amount of human contact and manual manipulations of the data, you can actually improve security and reduce your organization’s overall risk.  

Are You on Track With Healthcare Automation?

Workflow automation today is not about creating robots that replace human work – it’s about empowering employees to turn their focus from a mountain of digital paperwork to creating an organization that delivers the best possible care. If your organization is not taking advantage of today’s workflow automation tools, you’re at risk of being left behind as automation technology improves – the time to implement sophisticated workflow automation is now. 

At Olive, we automate healthcare’s most costly, high-volume tasks using sophisticated artificial intelligence capabilities: robotic process automation, computer vision, and machine learning. Olive takes workflow automation to the next level by increasing the complexity of workflows that can be automated as well as proactively identifying areas for opportunity and potential problems to correct. Contact us today to learn more about how Olive can help your organization implement workflow automation.