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AI in Healthcare and Social Determinants of Health

Reflections on HIMSS 2023: AI in Healthcare and Social Determinants of Health
12th May 2023
Calum Yacoubian
AI in Healthcare and Social Determinants of Health

The HIMSS 2023 conference has come and gone, leaving us with a lot to think about in terms of the future of healthcare technology. As I reflect on my experience at the conference, there are a few key takeaways that stand out to me. 

First and foremost, it's clear that AI is now squarely in the spotlight in healthcare. Just about every vendor offering at HIMSS 2023 was utilizing some form of AI, whether it be image analysis, natural language processing (NLP), or predictive analytics. This is not a new trend but it is accelerating, and we are seeing more and more AI-powered solutions enter the market. 

Use case: Addressing Social Determinants of Health with NLP 

One area where AI is particularly promising is in the realm of Social Determinants of Health (SDOH). At HIMSS 2023, there was a lot of discussion around how AI can be used to identify and address SDOH factors in patient care. A couple of sessions that I found particularly compelling were presented by physicians from NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health, who spoke about their use of Linguamatics NLP to extract patient-level SDOH data from electronic medical records. By deploying this AI-powered workflow into clinical practice, they have been able to screen 56% more patients for SDOH care gaps.
But what really struck me was their case study showing how this AI-aided workflow is impacting individual patients. In this case, a 20- to 30-year-old female presenting to the Emergency Department for headache. In the background, NLP identified that this patient had previously spoken about being a victim of abuse. The AI output was presented to a care worker with this information highlighted. They were able to take a detailed history from the patient on that topic and as a result, refer her for PTSD counseling and legal assistance. This example really drove home the potential impact that AI can have on patient care at the individual level. 

Compared to last year's HIMSS conference, this year's felt much more back to “normal”. There was a real buzz and a lot of cross-industry collaboration on show. Of course, there was great excitement around the latest advancements in generative AI, particularly how it can reduce physician burden and burnout. There are many potential ways that I think we are going to see this technology impact daily clinical practice – and I am sure that next year’s HIMSS will be full of case studies born out of the excitement of this year.  

In conclusion, HIMSS 2023 was an exciting event that highlighted the growing role of AI in healthcare and the importance of addressing Social Determinants of Health. The case study presented by NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health serves as a powerful reminder of the potential impact of AI when deployed into clinical practice. As the industry continues to evolve, I'm looking forward to seeing how these technologies will continue to transform patient care.