The Yin and Yang in Healthcare

Augmented Intelligence, NLP and the Yin and Yang of Star Wars: How Atrius Health Balances Profit and Quality Care

May 16 2018

The Philosophy of Yin and Yang

The idea itself is relatively simple- all things exist in a state of entanglement and contradiction to themselves. Like my favorite geeked out analogy - Star Wars with the light (Yin) and the dark side (Yang). If you recall- Luke (Yin) and Darth Vader (Yang) both always had one foot over the line that delineates the dark side from that of the light. Either character could have changed their sides but ultimately there must always be a balance in the Force.

Yin, Yang and Star Wars - What Does That Have to Do With Modern Healthcare?!

It’s about balance. Healthcare organizations are businesses. A business by its very nature needs to make a profit to continue its existence. Healthcare organizations just happen to be in the business of caring for people. It is a business that by all ethical principles should not be performing unnecessary procedures to stay out of the red and yet this is still done by some organizations.  

The Conundrum of Modern Healthcare

How do you possibly balance providing good, ethical care and still make a profit? A hospital can’t treat people if it goes bankrupt- just ask Miami Medical Center. (Although you might have to track someone down to ask them). Yet there are institutions that are able to maintain balance, and others that even make a profit - while providing better care. What competitive advantages do they have? There is something to the saying that you need to spend money to make money (or at least not drown in perilous debt in order to provide care). How do some organizations manage this balance?

Augmented Intelligence and, in Atrius’s example, Natural Language Processing (NLP) using I2E.

Atrius Health Makes Strides in Balancing its NLP Technology

Atrius Health proves that unstructured data once surfaced can make a difference on patient care, hospital efficiency and increasing funds. Here are just some examples that they provide in detail in the webinar “Operationalizing NLP to support value-based care at Atrius Health”.

  • Closing care gaps: identifying at-risk patients - in 2017 Atrius identified 92 otherwise undocumented CHF and COPD patients. Identifying these patients has helped Atrius Health to gain between $50,000 and $100,000 in additional annual risk-adjusted revenue per disease area.

  • Increased efficiency in chart review as part of a patient safety net: Before I2E, nurses had to manually review approximately 1,000 charts to find one applicable case. After applying I2E they were able to decrease the manual review case to now finding one in reviewing six.That’s a 99.4% decrease in time spent on this task.  

  • Atrius Health’s stellar numbers get better - they report a 33% increase in composite metric performance, ensuring heart failure patients are on beta blockers and ACE inhibitors.

Looking Forward to Social Determinants of Health and Behavioural Health Opportunities

"Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future."

Although Yoda wasn’t one to solidly commit to future next steps, Atrius Health can say where they are looking... “We are optimistic that there are additional opportunities to leverage I2E to identify behavioral health and social determinants of health issues that aren’t captured as well in structured data.”

In my opinion - Atrius Health really is finding its Yin/Yang - they know the importance of balancing urgency and importance, and where each small increment can make a real difference. NLP isn’t a simple push of the easy button - this would require all clinicians to document every like situation the same way. I can’t even say that I see the people in the same clinic doing that - much less a whole hopital. NLP is a valuable resource that, when applied correctly to a hospital system, can make a real difference in the patient population and the patients themselves. Don’t take my word on it - watch the webinar, download the case study or read more information here.

And may the Force be with YOU too.  

Take a look to learn more about big data solutions for the healthcare industry.