Artificial intelligence and its impact on health care

Exterior of Bridgeport Hospital, in Bridgeport, Conn. April 13, 2017.

Exterior of Bridgeport Hospital, in Bridgeport, Conn. April 13, 2017.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

From our GPS to our smart TVs, smart locks, video doorbell surveillance systems, and the social media platforms we consistently follow and scroll through, artificial intelligence, or AI, has become an integral part of our daily lives. AI is the science of using technology to automate tasks traditionally performed by humans. It is transforming our homes and has a significant impact on our industry.

Within the health care industry, AI is used in a variety of ways, both simple and complex. Data mining, analytics and machine learning have allowed pharmaceutical companies to develop new treatments and vaccines. Wearable virtual assistants keep patients safe in their homes. New technologies and applications have enabled practitioners to accurately diagnose patients, communicate, coordinate care and implement treatment strategies in nearly real time.

While AI offers valuable insights and assists us in delivering better care, the care we provide requires emotional impact and the human touch, neither of which can ever be replaced by technology. On the contrary, one of the benefits of AI is that these new tools and technology will allow us to spend more time with our patients, providing the care critical to their well-being and healing.

If you are at our Bridgeport campus, you may encounter our TUG robots. Initially, the machines will automate the transport and delivery of certain specimens between the ED and the lab but will be eventually rolled out housewide. The robot technology will enable our nurses, techs, and other care team members to remain in their units where they are most needed. Robots cannot promote healing, but they may be able to support staff and patient well-being.

In addition to the TUG robots, we have incorporated AI in the health care setting by remotely monitoring our patients. A critical tool during COVID, it has been expanded to most recently including the new Home Hospital program and a surveillance tool that assists with fall prevention among at-risk inpatients by alerting staff to patient movement consistent with getting up.

These few examples only show how technology and systems can support our efforts to decrease the potential for error and injury. More importantly, AI will reduce some of the burdens on our staff and leave more time for teams to focus on the activities related to direct patient care and to ensure optimal outcomes.

We will always depend on our employees, whose experience, expertise, judgment and human touch are irreplaceable.

Anne Diamond is president of Bridgeport Hospital.

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