HMH making greater use of AI, machine learning to improve screening, detection

Processes are just 1 way system has expanded partnership with Google since start of pandemic

Hackensack Meridian Health is partnering with Google Cloud to deploy artificial intelligence and machine learning in key clinical areas, such as screening and detection, the health system and tech giant announced this week.

HMH is believed to be one of the first health systems in the world to use Chrome OS devices across clinical and business environments to improve and transform care.

HMH officials said the partnership came partly because of the pandemic, which forced all businesses to reexamine how they operated. HMH utilized Chrome Enterprise to empower team members to work remotely by deploying 3,000 Chromebooks with Citrix and enabling secure access to core health care applications.

Chromebooks also helped physicians conduct visits from home or the office, which was critically important as the health system’s network experienced a significant increase in the number of telehealth visits — from approximately 8,600 in 2019 to nearly 200,000 in 2020.

“Hackensack Meridian Health is always looking for new and innovative ways we can utilize technology to transform the patient experience,” CEO Bob Garrett said. “Through our collaboration with Google, we are enhancing patient care and improving health outcomes.”

Here’s how HMH officials say they are deploying AI/ML solutions to assist in screening and disease detection:

  • Newborn screenings: Newborn screening is a public health program that tests babies for congenital disorders. HMH is using AI/ML technologies such as Natural Language Processing and Optical Character Recognition to put results in the provider’s hand as soon as possible. This initiative allows providers to receive automatic notification of test results and expedite access to review the newborn patient’s screening results and medical information.
  • Mammography screenings: A routine mammogram is one of the best ways to find breast cancer in women ages 50-74, and it is critical for patient outcomes to provide high accuracy in mammogram readings. HMH is looking to improve the accuracy of mammogram readings using AI to conduct secondary screenings, potentially catching issues undetected by a provider and improving overall quality.
  • Prostate cancer screenings: Recent research has identified a wide variance in prostate cancer outcomes among male patients within different demographic groups. HMH is using AI/ML technologies to pinpoint and understand specific factors that influence this variance in patient outcome. AI/ML models can be built to predict patient outcomes and provide potential treatment paths.
  • Sepsis detection: According to the CDC, at least 1.7 million adults in the U.S. will develop sepsis this year and nearly 270,000 Americans die from it. HMH is looking to utilize AI/ML technologies to analyze patients’ medical data and predict risk of infection in real-time.
  • COVID-19 detection: HMH is using NLP, an AI technology, to analyze the clinical notes of patients with COVID-19. The goal of this initiative is to better understand COVID-19 signs and symptoms, and how the disease progresses in patients.

Dr. Dan Varga, the chief physician executive at HMH, said the partnership has impact.

“Google Cloud’s AI and ML technologies are a new frontier in medicine,” he said. “Together, we will improve patient care, treatment precision and clinical outcomes of diseases, while increasing efficiencies that can help physicians devote more time to life-saving research and patient care.”