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Dr. Chris Longhurst on AI innovation

For Dr. Chris Longhurst, organizations implementing AI-powered solutions must maintain “high reliability."
By admin
Jun 12, 2023, 11:45 AM

Editor’s note: This is the first installment of a series of articles that will showcase highlights from Chime Innovation events’ keynote speakers and panel discussions that are taking place throughout the Summer 2023.

Dr. Chris Longhurst, a key thought leader and practitioner in healthcare innovation, offered insights into the digital transformation of healthcare systems in a powerful and timely keynote address on June 4 at the the Innovation in Clinical Informatics Summit in San Diego. 

Remaining highly reliable

Longhurst proposed that in order for healthcare organizations to become a “highly reliable learning healthcare system,” they must mandate long-term quality and safety, while incorporating processes that allow for learning and quick pivots based on data.

“This is the culture of continuous improvement that we’re hoping to build with 10,000 problem solvers, relentlessly improving the value of care for patients, loving their jobs,” Longhurst shared.  

This theme underscores a major shift in healthcare, moving from a primarily hospital-focused model to a patient-centric system emphasizing quality of care and safety. 

“We’re going to recommit to this concept of high reliability and becoming a highly reliable organization: consistent excellence in quality and safety across all services maintained over long periods of time,” Longhurst shared and stressed that organizations must remain highly reliable in order to successfully implement other transformations. 

The application of AI, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, played a vital role in healthcare delivery. Longhurst and his team used an AI imaging tool to analyze chest films for signs of COVID-19 pneumonia, and the images changed one in five clinical decisions. He said this tool was developed and put into production within 14 days, in partnership with Amazon Web Services. 

“(It’s) an example of an AI tool that was put into place very rapidly, helping us deliver better care to our patients.” 

In response to the shifts in patient volumes and the market, U.C. San Diego introduced an “acute care at home” program, which remotely monitors patients after discharge. The program includes home nursing visits, tele-visits with ED physicians, and remote vital sign monitoring, enabling the delivery of care outside the traditional hospital setting. 

Another breakthrough came in sepsis care with the introduction of a unique AI algorithm developed by Gabe Wardi, M.D. and Shamim Nemati, Ph.D., that uses electronic health record data combined with bedside monitoring data

“Our observed or expected sepsis mortality has never been lower at U.C. San Diego than in the eight or nine months since we implemented this AI algorithm,” Longhurst revealed.  

Patient-centric care

Healthcare’s future, according to Longhurst, lies not only in adopting new technology and high reliability but also in adopting a patient-centric approach, focusing on quality, safety, and innovation. Based on this keynote, the digital transformation of healthcare will continue to be a complex journey involving a myriad of factors: leadership commitment, culture change, and technological innovation – but by embracing this complexity with all the tools and resources now becoming available, it is patients who will ultimately benefit through better care. 

“Our focus is on making a difference to the communities that we serve.” 

Building on extensive experience in the fields of journalism, media production, and learning design and development, John Marc Green’s newest adventure is serving as Director of CHIME Innovation. In this role, his ongoing conversations with CHIME Members and Partners provide insights and direction to serve their interests in a variety of ways, including digital healthcare innovation journalism, professional development events and program facilitation, and on-demand educational development through CHIME Innovation.

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