AI has already come to healthcare in Katy, industry leaders say

Susan Rovegno, Publisher
Posted 10/23/23

Artificial intelligence is a tool already in use in local health care institutions, industry leaders said at the October 13th “State of Healthcare” summit hosted by the Katy Area Chamber of Commerce at the Embassy Suites at 16435 Katy Freeway.

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AI has already come to healthcare in Katy, industry leaders say


Artificial intelligence is a tool already in use in local health care institutions, industry leaders said at the October 13th “State of Healthcare” summit hosted by the Katy Area Chamber of Commerce at the Embassy Suites at 16435 Katy Freeway.

Michelle Stansbury, VP of Innovation and IT Applications for Houston Methodist, described how the Houston Methodist system is deploying artificial intelligence today. She said that the innovation initiatives had three main areas of focus – the patient, the clinician and how efficiency can be increased enabling the hospital and its clinics to do things better using technology.

Stansbury said that the Houston Methodist System is already currently using AI in several ways:

· E-check in and Fast Pass. The e-check program went live in May 2023 at 116 hospital departments – facilitating completion of forms and payment prior to the appointment. Fast Pass is a “wait list” feature that automatically sends patients a text or email messages notifying them of a wait list appointment offering. The imaging department went live on June 26 and has showed a 27-day improvement, Stansbury said.

· Phone bots. A pilot program is now in progress through which patients calling in to renew their prescriptions are directed by the Syllable Voice-Bot on how to fill their prescription. Another pilot program allows patients calling into the call center to be scheduled by the Syllable Voice- Bot. The technology allows patients to carry on a natural conversation without pressing buttons and will also enable appointment scheduling.

· The Virtual ICU was created five or six years ago in the Med Center as a virtual command center to leverage technology to deliver personalized care for patients. Stansbury called this development a “game changer” which facilitated the rollout of IPads to the nursing team.

· Biosensors worn by the patient which deliver continuous medical data to the care team.

Stansbury said that the hospital system has additional plans for the future, including the following possibilities for AI deployment – many of which will be in use at Houston Methodist’s newest hospital being built in the Cypress area:

· Virtual Nursing, which will leverage the power of in-room sensors, AI-powered autonomous monitoring, and automated documentation. The program will improve intake and discharge workflows, hourly rounding, patient and family education, compliance reporting and care team coordination.

· Ambient intelligence in operating rooms, which will focus on efficiency in OR set up time and break down/clean up, resulting in quicker turnaround of ORs.

· “Smart Room” of the future which focuses on delivering comfort, control and connectedness for patients and their families and for care givers. The in-room TV is not only an engagement device but also serves as the digital “white board” for the patient, listing the members of the care team and the care plan for the day, among other information. Rooms are wired with virtual care cameras which serve multitude connected use cases. Ambient intelligence enables patient safety and operational monitoring, Stansbury said. Patients will be able to control lights,

temperature and connected devices. She noted that Smart Rooms will require an investment in network infrastructure and IT security, changes in technology including contingency plans for data and upgrades in the electrical system and cabling, and that operational workflows would need to be redesigned.

· Use of prediction models using sets of patient data to identify discharge barriers for patients and to predict when they can discharged.

But a professor from Rice University cautioned about the potential challenges associated with the use of artificial intelligence. Dr. Vladimir Braverman, a Victor E. Cameron professor of computer science, said that there is a “deep notion of trust” and that AI is not infallible. He demonstrated a mathematical proof generated by AI that contained an early calculation error, which caused the proof to deliver false results. Dr. Braverman said that he is teaching a class at Rice designed to familiarize non-medical students with the possibilities for use of AI in the medical field; he called on the medical industry to provide the same kind of training on the medical side in order to foster better collaboration and innovation using AI.

A panel of three other local healthcare leaders, moderated by Jason Hodge of Medical Fitness Pros, also updated attendees on the current state of healthcare in the greater Katy area.

· Dr. Carla Braxton, Chief Medical and Chief Quality Officer from Houston Methodist West, noted that her 217-bed hospital had just opened its third medical tower. She said the hospital has three hybrid operating rooms and four robots which assist with guided procedures. Dr. Braxton also said that “access” is the buzzword of the year and described the hospital system’s self-scheduling options which are designed to get the patient to the right doctor the first time and so that all services work together for the patient. She spoke about the “social determinants” of healthcare and explained how Houston Methodist is using enhanced patient screening to help deliver a complete continuum of care and improved outcomes.

· Amanda Hamlin from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center said that their Medical Center campus planned to double its capacity over the next several years. She noted that MD Anderson owns the land behind the West Houston campus near Katy and that there are plans to eventually expand services at that facility in the future.

· Lara Mautz, executive director of charity medical facility Christ Clinic serving the uninsured, praised the local healthcare institutions for working together to ensure care for the community. She also recognized the Katy area’s aging population and the need for more primary care; she stressed the need for more “same day available” appointments in the area. Mautz noted that the number one barrier to patients in the West Houston area receiving care is lack of transportation. She said that 95 percent of Christ Clinic’s patients were at 100 percent of the federal poverty level.

Artificial intelligence, Katy Area Chamber of Commerce, "State of Healthcare", Michelle Stansbury, Embassy Suites Katy Freeway