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Automating Patient Safety with Michael McShea

Michael McShea presented on automating patient safety during a Liftoff in Motion/Health Activist Network virtual event.

During a special Liftoff in Motion virtual event on September 1, Liftoff PGH and the Health Activist Network welcomed Michael McShea to discuss Automating Patient Safety. McShea, the health system innovation lead of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), strategic advisor for Rose: Smarter Mental Health, and industry advisor for the Digital Healthcare Collaborative, dove into the power of autonomous technologies (like artificial intelligence) to improve quality of care and reduce medical error. The event laid out the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative's renewed call for creation of a National Patient and Provider Safety Authority (NPSA). The recording of the talk can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uY-DIAnBA_g

McShea illustrated the U.S.'s ability to leverage technology for patient safety, saying, "The goal needs to be to create a data-driven infrastructure to eliminate patient harms…The technology already exists to do this. What we need to do is take a more systematic approach to applying that technology to health care." He cited examples including the airline industry, financial technology, space exploration, and cybersecurity, all of which have used automated technology to prevent problems for decades.

McShea introduced current programs using automation to collect and use powerful data for harm prevention at multiple levels. The eICU, a remote system that allows one clinician to manage 150 patients without sacrificing quality, already monitors 1 in 8 adult ICU patients nationally and uses patient data analytics to notify clinicians when patients need attention. At Johns Hopkins and other facilities, remote Command Centers increase telehealth capabilities and smooth patient transitions. The APL ESSENCE (Electronic Surveillance System for Early Notification of Community Based Epidemics) allows the CDC to collect data from 47 states, search for patterns, and predict problems. And we already have a wealth of data collected and shared through health information exchanges, CMS reporting infrastructure, and the FDA's medical device surveillance system.

This data will be key in finding a national patient safety solution, McShea emphasized, noting that we are already using data collection technology systems that could support an NPSA. "I view the NPSA's efforts as really driving the next ten years of what we're going to do with this data," he said.

McShea and attendees noted that technologies still require advancement to develop unbiased AI and assure accessible medical data systems at the clinical level. However, the potential of the resources available creates an excellent opportunity to solve the medical error issue.

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