AAC Utilizing AI to Improve Outcomes
By MELANIE KILGORE-HILL
EarlySense™ Technology Helps Monitor High-Risk Detox Patients
Over the past decade, artificial intelligence has morphed from the big screen to the patient room, revolutionizing clinical care throughout the United States.
In June, American Addiction Centers (AAC) became the industry's first treatment provider to utilize EarlySense™ technology during detox. This potentially life-saving technology provides medical staff with real-time data to identify irregular vital signs, which is crucial for patient safety in the detox phase of treatment. Over the next few months, American Addiction Centers, which is headquartered in Brentwood and owns and operates more than 30 treatment facilities across the country, will implement this technology as a standard of care at all of its facilities with detox services.
Tom Doub, PhD
"This decision was all about patient safety, and we've been very focused on reducing risks as patients go through detox," said Tom Doub, PhD, chief clinical and compliance officer for AAC. "Addiction killed 64,000 people last year, so by the time they get to us they're often very fragile and experiencing serious physical health, medical co-morbidities and psychiatric problems so you really have to watch them closely."
The FDA-cleared patient monitoring system uses a sensor placed beneath the mattress to continuously tracks the patient's heart rate, breathing patterns and movements without attaching any wires to the patient. Concerning changes, such as irregular heartbeats or breathing patterns and sudden movements, will immediately distribute real-time alerts to a central nursing hub, tablets, and mobile devices, providing nurses with ample time to proactively respond.
Mark Calarco, MD
Mark Calarco, MD, national medical director for AAC, stressed that EarlySense is intended to assist staff, not replace them. However, the highest risk of withdrawal is between midnight and 8 a.m., which is also when many facilities schedule fewer and newer staff.
"This supports the human component of nursing during the graveyard and third shifts, which are just hard on the human body," Calarco said. "EarlySense adds another layer of safety for both patients and staff."
An unexpected benefit includes the ability to monitor patients for falls. Additionally, the device is intelligent enough to set at an appropriate level for each patient - meaning fewer annoying false alarms.
Last year, AAC saw good results when they piloted EarlySense in a California facility that serves medically compromised patients. "The technology is very simple and easy to use, but the ultimate test is always whether staff finds it a help or hindrance, since some technology just creates more work and doesn't necessarily add to patient care," Doub said.
The result? Happier clinical staff and better outcomes. That's because the device samples the heart rate twice a second giving staff an early warning if someone's deteriorated or in distress rather than relying on hourly check-ins. For an organization with 1,200 patients at any given time, the potential is a game changer.
Calarco said EarlySense is just the start of artificial intelligence for AAC, which also utilizes biotech AI to provide personalized medicine for individualized recovery plans. The technology supports their translational software, which allows physicians to collect a large database for research studies.
Leaders are also looking at low-cost biometric devices to help track patients' recovery progress and medical needs, including technology that detects if a patient is abstaining or relapsing on a particular drug.
"The human brain is good at processing certain information but less so in other areas, and we don't always make logical decisions based on highest probability," he said. "That's an area where AI could help us in making clinical decisions and diagnoses. Some patients have a lot of variables including multiple diagnoses and multiple meds, and that's where AI will be especially useful."
AAC is also moving toward a common electronic medical record platform for their growing number of facilities. "Like other industries, healthcare produces a tremendous amount of data, and as we've brought in new facilities on different systems it's increasingly difficult to compile data in a granular way," Doub said. "As one of the larger providers of addiction services we have a tremendous opportunity to be more engaged and advance the state of knowledge. Those who use customer data wisely and responsibly will do so to provide a more effective and responsive product."