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How Intermountain Healthcare is using Artificial Intelligence to reduce surgery costs and improve outcomes for Patients

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David Skarda, MD, Intermountain Healthcare’s medical director for Center for Value-Based Surgery, has been named to the nation’s class of Top 25 Innovators for 2020 by Modern Healthcare magazine for his innovative work to reduce healthcare costs and improve patient outcomes.

Dr. Skarda is helping to establish a surgical care process model that changes the way Intermountain Healthcare analyzes and codes surgeries to create better outcomes and lower costs for patients.

This new state-of-the art tool uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze data, claims, and anything associated with the cost of care from 30 days before to 90 days after a surgery.

So far, the tool is being used for two procedures across the Intermountain Healthcare system and it’s already projected to save more than $8 million during the fiscal year. The savings are expected to increase as the technology is applied to other surgical procedures.

“In the past, most health systems would save money by cutting out devices or procedures that cost the most,” said Dr. Skarda. “By analyzing total medical costs over 120 days we get a clearer picture of what gives us the best surgical outcomes, which also tends to lower the total cost of care.”

Looking at the total cost of surgery, and not just what happens in the operating room, gives clinicians the information needed to improve care, said Dr. Skarda.

An example is a knee replacement, which is a common procedure. The AI system analyzes the cost of the knee replacement device but also looks at any medications, imaging, physical therapy, and complications over the 120-day period. If a device is slightly more expensive but leads to fewer complications, and quicker recovery, the system recognizes it as a better value even though the initial cost is more expensive.

Trying to find these results using only electronic medical records would be impossible but combining claims data and the AI system makes the information useful to caregivers.

Intermountain Healthcare surgeons now receive a report card that shows where they can reduce costs and how other physicians in their field are improving outcomes. This helps doctors make better decisions because it gives them the necessary data to prove what works.

That information can easily be shared to help hospital systems around the world improve the way they give care.

For More information visit the Intermountain Healthcare website. If you or a family member is experiencing a medical emergency, dial 9-1-1.

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