Artificial Intelligence showing positive patient and physician outcomes

Published: Aug. 8, 2023 at 10:03 AM CDT
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LAREDO, Tx. (KGNS) - There’s no question artificial intelligence is popping up in industries across the board--from travel to retail, e-commerce to logistics, many are claiming it’s an essential tool—and that includes a local physician who says Artificial Intelligence (AI) is making a difference in his clinic with administrative tasks that take him away from patient care.

“So, 3 to 5 minutes doesn’t sound like a lot, but multiply that by 10, 20, 30, and it ends up being an hour to an hour and a half a day that needs to be spent documenting,” explained Dr. Ricky Cigarroa II, Interventional Cardiologist. “If you add that up over a week, that’s multiple hours.”

It’s a problem many doctors face—spending countless hours in front of the computer instead of in front of patients doing what they were trained to do. But with the help of AI, that’s all changing.

“In some cases, it can also listen to the conversation, like a free-flowing conversation, and from that, it can create a structured patient note.”

Having that kind of help means patients can get seen by a physician quicker—an important factor in combating Laredo’s medically underserved community.

“So, with the big Baby Boomer population that’s now entering into the ages where they’re going to need more healthcare, we need to find ways to balance that with less physicians that are being produced.” Cigarroa said.

Along with helping physicians with dictation, Artificial Intelligence is also helping with data management—sifting through thousands of studies, even treatment options, keeping doctors up to date on the latest advancements available.

AI is also showing promise addressing another major problem—physician burnout. A study published by the Mayo Clinic shows more than 3 in 5 physicians reported at least one sign of burnout in 2021, with surveyed physicians saying they spend on average 49% of their time on administrative tasks and only 29% caring for patients.

“A lot of it is driven by these administrative documentation tasks that are not direct patient encounters that lead a lot of healthcare providers to just get exhausted,” explained Dr. Cigarroa.

And that’s not all. Dr. Cigarroa also says AI has made its way into the world of imaging.

“I would say the biggest use of AI right now is in diagnosing strokes,” Cigarroa says. “Especially in smaller hospitals communicating with bigger hospitals.”

So, as artificial intelligence technology grows, the hope is it’ll help reduce patient wait times and provide overall better quality of care.

“That’s really where I think healthcare providers are going to first notice the benefits with artificial intelligence,” said Dr. Cigarroa. “It’s decreasing the burden of administrative tasks to free up time for both patient encounters and also allowing physicians to spend time with their families outside of hospital care.”

Meanwhile, AI is only becoming more sophisticated. Dr Cigarroa says software is currently being developed that’ll assist interventional cardiologists in determining whether an invasive measure is needed in a patient--before having to perform the actual procedure.

The pharmacy industry is also leveraging AI technology through automated dispensing to improve work-flow efficiency and lower operating costs while promoting safety, accuracy, and efficiency. This allows the pharmacist to spend more time with patients and focus on their health outcomes.

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