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Applying AI Based Outlier Detection to Healthcare – Interview with Dr. Gidi Stein from MedAware

Posted on September 17, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Most people who receive healthcare understand that healthcare is as much art as it is science. We don’t expect our doctors to be perfect or know everything because the human body is just too complex and there are so many factors that influence health. What’s hard for patients to understand is when obvious human errors occur. This is especially true when technology or multiple layers of humans should have caught the obvious.

This is exactly why I was excited to interview Dr. Gidi Stein, CEO and Co-founder of MedAware. As stated on their website, their goal is to eliminate prescription errors. In the interview below, you’ll learn more about what MedAware and Dr. Stein are doing to achieve this goal.

Tell us a little about yourself and MedAware.

Early in my career, I worked in the Israeli high-tech industry and served as CTO and Chief Architect of several algorithm-rich startups. However, after many years working in technology, I decided to return to school and study medicine. In 2002, I graduated from Tel Aviv University Medical School with a specialization in internal medicine, treating patients and teaching students and residents in one of Israel’s largest hospitals.

After working as a physician for several years, I heard a heartbreaking story, which ultimately served as my motivation and inspiration to found MedAware. A physician was treating a 9-year-old boy who suffered from Asthma. To treat the symptoms, the physician entered the electronic prescribing environment and selected Singulair from the drop-down menu, a standard treatment for asthma. However, unfortunately, he accidentally clicked Sintrom, an anticoagulant (blood thinner). Tragically, neither the physician, pharmacist nor parent caught this error, which resulted in the boys’ untimely death. This avoidable, medication-related complication and death was caused by a typo.

Having worked as a physician for many years, I had a difficult time understanding that with all the medical intervention and technological support we rely on, our healthcare system was not intelligent enough to prevent errors like this. This was a symptom of a greater challenge; how can we identify and prevent medication related complications before they occur? Given my combined background in technology and medicine, I knew that there must be a solution to eliminate these types of needless errors. I founded MedAware to transform patient safety and save lives.

Describe the problem with prescription-based medication errors that exists today.  What’s the cause of most of these errors?

Every year in the U.S. alone, there are 1.5 million preventable medication errors, which result in patient injury or death. In fact, medication errors are the third leading cause of death in the US, and errors related to incorrect prescription are a major part of these. Today’s prescription-related complications fall into two main categories: medication errors that occur at the point of order entry (like the example of the 9yr old boy) and errors that result from evolving adverse drug events (ADEs). Point of order entry errors are a consequence of medication reconciliation challenges, typos, incorrect dosage input and other clinical inconsistencies.

Evolving ADEs are, in fact, the bulk of the errors that occur – almost 2/3 of errors are those that happen after a medication was correctly prescribed. These are often the most catastrophic errors, as they are completely unforeseen, and don’t necessarily result from physician error. Rather, they occur when a patient’s health status has changed, and a previously safe medication becomes unsafe.

MedAware uses AI to detect outlier prescriptions.  It seems that everything is being labeled AI, so how does this work and how effective is it at detecting medication errors?

AI is best used to analyze large scale data to identify patterns and outliers to those patterns. The common theme in industries, such as aviation, cyber security and credit card fraud, is that they are rich with millions of transactions, 99.99% of which are okay. But, a small fraction of them are hazardous, and these dangers most often occur in new and unexpected ways. In these industries, AI is used to crunch millions of transactions, identify patterns, and most importantly, identify outliers to those patterns as potential hazards with high accuracy.

Medication safety is similar to these industries. Here too, millions of medications are prescribed and dispensed every day, and in 99.99% of cases, the right medication is prescribed and dispensed to the right patient. But, on rare occasions, an unexpected error or oversight may put patients at risk. MedAware analyzes millions of clinical records to identify errors and oversights as statistical outliers to the normal behavioral patterns of providers treating similar patients. Our data shows that this methodology, identifies errors and ADEs with high accuracy and clinical relevance and that most of the errors found by our system would not have been caught by any other existing system.

Are most of the errors you find obvious errors that a human could have detected but just missed or are you finding surprising errors as well?  Can you share some stories of what you’ve found?

The errors that we find are obvious errors; any physician would agree that they are indeed erroneous. These include: prescribing chemotherapy to healthy individuals, not stopping anticoagulation to a bleeding patient, birth control pills to a 70-year-old male and prescribing Viagra to a 2-year-old baby. All of these are obvious errors, so why didn’t the prescribers pick these up? The answer is simple: they are human, and humans err, especially when they are less experienced and over worked. Our software is able to mirror back to the providers the crowdsourced behavioral patterns of their peers and identify outliers to these patterns as errors.

You recently announced a partnership with Allscripts and their dbMotion interoperability solution.  How does that work and what’s the impact of this partnership?

Today’s healthcare systems have created a reality where patient health information can be scattered across multiple health systems, infrastructures and EHRs. The dbMotion health information exchange platform aggregates and harmonizes that scattered patient data, delivering the information clinicians need in a usable and actionable format at the point of care, within the provider’s native and familiar workflow. With dbMotion, all of the patient’s records are in one place. MedAware sits on top of the bdMotion interoperability platform as a layer of safety, accurately looking at the thousands of clinical inputs in the system and warning with even greater accuracy. MedAware catches various medication errors that would have been missed due to a decentralized patient health record. In addition to identifying prescription-based medication errors, MedAware can also notify physicians of patients who are at risk of opioid addiction.

This partnership will allow any institution using Allscripts’ dbMotion to easily implement MedAware’s system in a streamlined manner, with each installation being quick and effortless.

Once MedAware identifies a prescription error, how do you communicate that information back to the provider? Do you integrate your solution with the EHR vendor?

Yes, MedAware is integrated with EHR platforms. This is necessary for error detection and communication of the warning to the provider. There are two intervention scenarios: 1) Synchronous – when errors are caught at the point of order entry, a popup alert appears within the EHR user interface, without disturbing the provider’s workflow, and the provider can choose to accept or reject the alert. 2) Asynchronous – the errors/ADE is caught following a change in the patient’s clinical record (i.e. new lab result or vital sign), long after the prescription was entered. These alerts are displayed as a physician’s task, within the physician’s workflow and the EHR’s user interface.

What’s next for MedAware?  Where are you planning to take this technology?

The next steps for us are:

  1. Scale our current technology to grow to 20 million lives analyzed by 2020
  2. Create additional patient safety centered solutions to providers, such as opioid dependency risk assessment, gaps in care and trend projection analysis.
  3. Share our life-saving insights directly to those who need it most – consumers.

#HIMSS14 Day 2 – Future of EMR and EHR Market

Posted on February 25, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

As is probably going to forever be the case, much of my experience at HIMSS gets to benefit from the beauty of social media. Today was no different as their was the #HITsm chat where we played #HITsm account bingo. Somehow I ended up on stage competing against my fellow EMR and EHR writer, Jennifer Dennard, for one of the prizes. Happily she won. I cheered for her over me too. All in all it was a fun time hearing about the various people in the HITsm social media community.

The evening of day 2 was also highlighted by the New Media Meetup event. This is our 5th year organizing the event and I believe we can call it a great success. A big thanks to Stericycle Communication Solutions for sponsoring the event, and for everyone that attended. For those I didn’t really get a chance to see and talk with, let’s make up for it tomorrow. Although, as I always tell people, the best part of the event is that there are hundreds of amazing people you can meet.

Here were two comments attendees made to me about the event, “That conversation right there was more valuable to me than any of the sessions at HIMSS.” And then this one from someone who’s been to at least four of the meetups, “This is always my favorite event.” What a blessing for me to take part in such a tremendous HIMSS social media community.

Enough with my social media experience at HIMSS. Today I had a number of really interesting conversations. Some of them I’ll be saving for future posts. However, one thing stood out to me today in my discussions with a new EHR vendor called Viztek and the multiple EHR vendor, Allscripts.

When I decided to meet with Viztek, I was intrigued by the fact that they were just launching a new EHR software. I wanted to see who wave brave (or crazy depending on perspective) enough to launch a new EHR software at this point in the game. Are 300+ EHR vendors not enough? Plus, I thought the market was suppose to be contracting and not growing.

I was actually impressed by what I found at Viztek. No doubt, in the short time I had during HIMSS, I didn’t have time to dig in really deep to evaluate the breadth of the EHR they’ve created, it’s usability and feature set. Instead, with our short time I wanted to understand the why and EMR market conditions that prompted them to build and launch another EHR software.

What’s particularly interesting about Viztek is that they have a full PACS and RIS software system that they’ve already been selling for a long time. They saw offering an EHR software as a natural extension to this offering. Considering there’s still some growth available in the ambulatory market, and in specialties where they have deep PACS needs (like ortho) I could see an opportunity. One of the most compelling reasons for a practice to go with the fully integrated PACs and EHR software is that it leaves only one vendor to look to when there are issues. Don’t underestimate the value of this. I’m not sure of the pricing of their EHR, but I won’t be surprised if like many other vendors the EHR is just a way to get access to and solidify their main revenue stream (in this case PACS).

On the other end of the spectrum was my meeting with Allscripts. In my discussion, I almost got the feeling (although, they certainly didn’t state this specifically), that EHR has become almost a commodity. The idea being that everyone is going to have an EHR and that the EHR market is going to be a heterogeneous environment. I assure you that the later is true and will be for the forseeable future. So, it makes a lot of sense why much of the focus of our conversation was around Allscripts efforts with DBMotion to provide a platform that brings together all the data from the heterogeneous EHR systems.

I was really intrigued by each of these companies and how far apart they are in their approach to EHR. At the one side of the spectrum I see a new EHR that’s still trying to provide the right EHR software for the physician. On the other hand, you have a vendor that’s always been known as an EHR vendor (and quite frankly still is with so many EHR software under one roof) is now shifting much of their focus to population health and ACO technology.

I’ve previously written that the Golden Age of EHR adoption is over. We’re entering into a much bumpier and brutal period of EHR transition. We’ll see if doctors get some relief from ONC on Thursday. Word at HIMSS is that on Thursday they’ll be announcing something important in regards to meaningful use (likely during one of the ONC/CMS keynotes). At the CHIME event they said something to the effect of, “we’ve heard you and we’re going to help.” I’ll be on a plane home, but no doubt the details will be tweeted live.

There you have it. A few of my thoughts from day 2 of HIMSS. Tomorrow’s my last day at the event. I have too many things scheduled, but we’ll do what we can to discover interesting content and share more with you tomorrow.

Also, be sure to check out my #HIMSS14 Twitter Roundup – Take Two

Good Luck With That HIE Tech Purchase

Posted on June 21, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

Want to buy HIE technology?  It’ll cost you. But more importantly, you’ll still be dealing with a bewildering array of choices, if a new report from KLAS has it right.

According to KLAS, which asked 95 providers about their HIE buying plans, there were a few clear leaders in the field.  Providers surveyed by KLAS reviewed 38 HIE vendor offerings.  Of those, five HIE vendors were considered in more than 10 percent of the providers’ buying plans, researchers found.

If there was a clear leader, it was Medicity, which was considered in 23 percent of HIE buying decisions, according to a report from Healthcare IT News.  Next was Axolotl, with 22 percent; RelayHealth, with 16  percent; ICA, with 11 percent, and Epic, also with 11 percent. (Note: Epic was only being considered seriously when providers want to tie together multiple Epic installations.)

Looked at another way — by vendors mentioned most frequently by providers — the leaders were Axolotl, Cerner, dbMotion (part owned by the University of Pittburgh Medical Center), Epic, GE, ICA, InterSystems, Medicity, Orion and RelayHealth.

If you want to really fit the HIE to your situation, consider the following criteria, the HIN story suggests:

  • Public HIEs – A public exchange may belong to official state agencies or may be semi-independent with direct and typically temporary government backing. Public HIEs demand solutions with strong potential scalability and need standards-based technology.
  • Cooperative HIEs – In this model, otherwise-competitive hospitals work together to form independent HIE organizations, generally with an open invitation to other hospitals, clinics and physician practices. These HIEs often struggle to establish long-term funding and look for vendor solutions that offer flexible and affordable cost alternatives while best adapting diverse EMR technologies.
  • Private HIEs – In some respects, private HIEs are designed to enhance relationships as well as exchange data. Often, a single hospital or IDN creates an HIE hoping to draw in community physicians while protecting or increasing revenues. Funding is less complicated and these HIEs are more likely to be satisfied with solutions that best work with their existing technology.

The truth is, though, that whatever model best fits your HIE purchase, narrowing things down to your short-list isn’t as easy as just picking from KLAS’s top contenders.  Even these leaders have a moderate to tenuous grip on the market, and may or may not have the solution that fits your model. (Note: I’m familiar with Axolotl and Orion, both of which have what may be some of the longest-deployed tech out there, but I can’t vouch that they’re exactly better than anyone else.)

If it were me, I’d look at lesser-known, strongly-backed folks focused directly on the problem. Then, I’d do a co-development program with them so both win.  Got other ideas to share readers?