By Osama Alswailem, MD, MA, Chief Information Officer, King Faisal Specialist Hosptial & Research Centre
The healthcare sector, particularly tertiary-care hospitals, face an ever-increasing amount of pressure due to evolving demands aided by the growing population and unforeseen pandemics. Mounting healthcare needs directly impact patients’ overall experience; including prolonged waiting periods, delayed appointments, mired level of services, and hindered ability to provide proper care.
With the unprecedented global health crisis we have faced in recent years, the international healthcare system has been pushed to reform and transform. In this light, artificial intelligence (AI) and emerging technology have become increasingly prevalent, propelling efforts to improve patient care, solutions, and overall healthcare outcomes. Furthermore, the wider acceptance, and even promotion of smart technology, amongst clinicians, as a tool for informed clinical decisions has helped streamline operations, improve outcomes, and improve patient and staff satisfaction.
Terms like “digitization,” “artificial intelligence,” “technology,” and “smart solutions” have become buzzwords; their real-world application requires robust strategies and infrastructure that augments, rather than topples, manpower.
Setting the tone
Looking toward the Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s government implemented a dedicated healthcare transformation program, which sits under the country’s Vision 2030 framework for socio-economic progress, to reform the medical sector by bolstering technological aptitude and capabilities. In effect, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre (KFSH&RC), a leading tertiary and quaternary healthcare provider in Saudi Arabia, believes in harnessing the powers of AI and emerging technology to bolster its overall services and employee experiences.
With over 15,000 medical staff (from 60+ nationalities) KFSH&RC has balanced investment between its technological advancements and accelerating its employees’ capabilities. As a result, the healthcare provider successfully built a mature and synergetic healthcare infrastructure recognized by patients and global awarding bodies. Over the years, KFSH&RC has earned several distinctions, such as the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Level-7 accreditation in Advanced Analytics and Electronic Medical Record Adoption; HIMSS DAVIES Healthcare Service Excellence Award, Oracle-Cerner Innovation Award; and the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) Digital Health Most Wired Hospital Award.
Here’s how a quaternary healthcare facility incorporates advancing technology to evolve its services.
Adopting the right mindset: KFSH&RC has always found staff, clinical and non-clinical, advocating for the broad adoption of smart technology in healthcare to improve efficiency and overall outcomes (e.g. automating repetitive tasks using Robotics Process Automation (RPA) to enhance productivity or reviewing medical images); wherein a smart medical imaging AI system can safely check basic x-rays and provide clinicians the extra time needed to focus on more sophisticated/complex cases and boost service utilization.
KFSH&RC operates based on a unified electronic health records (EHR) system across its departments and main facilities in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Madina. Therefore, it can easily implement interoperable smart technology that produces a holistic view of current and future system capacities from temporal and spatial perspectives to inform day-to-day operations management and enhance the patient experience. The EHR system in KFSH&RC, deployed over 20 years ago, encompasses a vast database of clinical and operational information considered a strategic organizational asset, that all emerging technologies are able to build upon .
Building an excellence centre: KFSH&RC established the Center for Healthcare Intelligence (CHI), which embeds artificial intelligence and other emerging technology into the hospital’s healthcare delivery and operations platforms to enhance clinical outcomes, optimize cost, improve satisfaction, and advance translational research. The aim is to apply these technologies on focused projects that directly impact quality of care, clinical/non-clinical experience, and reducing cost.
Governance is key: KFSH&RC deployed a robust governance model that manages many specialty-specific AI groups such as the oncology, neuroscience, radiology, supply chain, human resources, and many others. These groups have clinical, operational, and technology experts working together to identify actual healthcare delivery and operational problems that can be addressed using AI, emerging technologies, and digital health tools.
Partnership and knowledge-sharing: Collaboration between the various domain experts is crucial for successfully deploying value-driven smart solutions. KFSH&RC emphasizes the role of knowledge sharing and awareness among its staff and the whole community. The hospital established specialized and certified applied healthcare AI programs tailored to healthcare staff for promoting AI and emerging technology capabilities and their applications in healthcare.
Bolstering in-house capabilities: KFSH&RC established a precise balance between buying third-party systems and building in-house systems through a local team of technology experts to boost the culture of innovation. As a result, multiple value-driven AI and emerging technology systems built in-house have been deployed in various clinical and operational units. These include systems for enhancing patient experience, operating room scheduling, service utilization monitoring, patient journey analysis, image contouring and early diagnostic solutions.
Constant progress: Healthcare providers need to set clear boundaries for adopting AI and emerging technology as tools for supporting evidence-based medicine. Subsequently, in the long run, through constant transformation and progress, large healthcare entities will realize the value of AI, emerging technologies, and digital health applications in clinical and operational departments, as it will help streamline multiple pathways. In this light, KFSH&RC aims to continue to expand the adoption of smart technologies and digital health applications while working with its innovation partners to build, tune, and share guidelines and best practices for ethical, safe, and generalizable applied technologies.
This post was created by King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre with Insider Studios.