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The Hospital of the Future and How Data, Digital, and AI Will Merge to Make Care Better: Q&A With Dr. Pierantonio Russo, Chief Medical Officer, EVERSANA

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Dr. Russo discusses how modern innovations will shape the way hospitals operate in years to come.

Pierantonio Russo

Dr. Pierantonio Russo
Chief medical officer
EVERSANA

In the fast-paced realm of healthcare, innovation stands as the cornerstone of progress. Recently, Pharmaceutical Executive connected with Pierantonio Russo, M.D., chief medical officer at EVERSANA who, in November 2023, spoke at Frontier's Health conference on the hospital of the future.

Pharmaceutical Executive: What does the “hospital of the future” look like?
Dr. Pierantonio Russo: There are seismic shifts occurring in the healthcare landscape today. We are witnessing the convergence of innovative technologies, the availability of enormous amounts of data from multiple sources, increasing computer power and advanced mathematical algorithms that are allowing us to use machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to make predictions about clinical events. We are seeing a growing focus on personalized medicine to match the right patient with the right treatment and with the right clinicians who respect this individual preference.

At the same time, large language models (LLM) feed advanced digital tools through generative AI, making care delivery more precise and efficient.

For several years, the Institute of Medicine has been encouraging the implementation of care pathways that align with the Quadruple Aim: optimal clinical outcomes, improved patient and physician experiences, and lower cost. So far, the pursuit of the Quadruple Aim through traditional care delivery systems have been elusive, but there is increasing evidence that AI and digital medicine are now facilitating the implementation of care pathways that will improve where we want to go: personalized, efficient, lower cost health care.

The hospital of the future will leverage predictive medicine and digital tools. We are already seeing trends to predict the evolution of health systems into “intelligent health service organizations.” What does this mean? I believe AI and digital medicine will transform hospitals and health organizations into a network of physical and virtual care delivery systems connected by a single digital platform.

Care will be delivered in communities, at home or in facilities, and the location of service will be suggested by machine-learning-algorithms that will identify the optimal location of service and the right clinical providers for the right patient at the right time. Data from digital front doors and remote patient monitoring will connect with the single digital platform, which will also ingest medical cost and utilization data.

The hospital of tomorrow will leverage machine learning to predict and escalate care needs and enable decision support tools within EMRS to optimize diagnostic and treatment decisions. Machine learning and generative AI will be used for the creation of synthetic patients’ “twins” for medical education and to simulate response to treatment; guide surgical and interventional procedures; and enhance diagnostic imaging. Administrative tasks, patient flow and building management will also benefit from predictive analytics, generative AI and automation. The opportunities are endless to create a better experience for tomorrow.

PE: How long will it take for hospitals to implement these updates?
Russo: On a large scale, it may take decades until many of these things come to market. But already today, many of these modern innovations are already occurring. Consider a few examples of an AI-powered clinical command center.

Most hospitals today still utilize standard nursing stations to deliver and coordinate care. However, selected hospital systems have already introduced a NASA-type of “Command Center.” Imagine a room where clinicians and other technicians have a full view of vital signs for patients in an entire wing of a hospital. These teams can see in real-time patient flow through the hospital from the emergency room admission through discharge. This command center can deploy robots to deliver food, supplies, medications and even support environmental services with pick up and trash disposal.

Several facilities across the globe including The Bradford Royal Infirmary1 (BRI) in the United Kingdom, Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland and Humber River Hospital in Toronto, Canada, already have some elements of these programs in place. Since implementing the command centers, Johns Hopkins reported patients from other hospitals are transferred 60 percent faster, Emergency Room (A&E) wait times have been cut by more than a quarter, and time spent waiting in the operating area for a post-surgical bed is down nearly 70%.

There are many more forward-minded institutions out there bringing new ways of care to the forefront leveraging technology and data to create a better experience. To prepare for the future, hospital leaders should start to invest in strong data infrastructure, cybersecurity, and digital front doors that improve the patient and provider connections and start to replace rule-based clinical and business algorithms with machine learning models trained on high-quality diverse data that also include social determinants of health to minimize social biases.

PE: What will be the patient experience once these updates are in place?Russo: In its simplest form, patients will have more convenient, customized care of their preference in the hospital of the future. Whether that is through increased use of smart tablet technology for things like telehealth, or medications delivered at the click of a button, I believe tomorrow’s hospital setting will make life better for patients.

Will it happen overnight? No, there will be roadblocks. But never before have we had such insights into what people want and prefer, and as all these data sources come together and health systems can use insights for the good of patients, everyone will benefit.

PE: As a trained physician, Dr. Russo, does this futuristic view of healthcare create any concerns for you?
Russo: I think anytime change comes it can be hard for people to embrace. But in medicine, change and new ways of delivering care means we will be able to help more patients. Think about the evolution of, for example, cardiac care.

Twenty-five years ago, if a patient had a heart attack or needed valve replacement or even a heart transplant, the only options were open-heart types of surgeries and procedures that came with elevated levels of risk with lower rates of success.

Over the past few decades minimally invasive procedures using catheters, cameras and even robotics have made many of these procedures faster and more precise with much better patient outcomes. It’s a win for everyone. I believe we’ll see these same outcomes in tomorrow’s hospital environment.

PE: What do pharma brands need to know about this futurist view of care?Russo: I think brands as they bring new therapies to market must understand how care is progressing, and they need to continue to invest in making care more convenient. This happens when they really have a deep knowledge of available data for their target patient population and know their preferences. Brands that embrace this innovation and data first mindset will continue to see success in helping serve patients and the broader society.

Source

  1. Bradford Announces AI-Powered Hospital Command Center, First of its Kind in Europe. GE Healthcare. Oct 4, 2018. Accessed Jan. 29, 2024. https://www.gehealthcare.com/about/newsroom/press-releases/bradford-announces-ai-powered-hospital-command-center-first-its-kind-europe?npclid=botnpclid
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