Producing doctors’ letters quickly – at last!
Now, Mr. Antweiler and his team are working in the SmartHospital.NRW project to automatically extract important details on diagnoses, prior treatments and allergies via AI and present it in a clear, structured form for medical personnel to use. Starting in 2024, AI-driven text mining well be deployed at University Hospital Essen, one of the project partners and a trailblazer in the field of digital transformation in Germany. The hospital is also set to put the AI-based speech recognition system to the test in the near future, along with another Fraunhofer IAIS innovation, the doctors’ letter generator. These documents, which are issued to every patient upon leaving the hospital, serve as the primary means of communication between hospitals and doctors’ offices. However, they currently take doctors an average of three hours to produce. The letters contain details such as the patient’s case history and suspected diagnosis assigned upon their admission to inpatient care, as well as any drugs that have been administered and any treatment steps that were taken in the hospital. Until now, medical personnel have had to go through the laborious process of collecting all this information from different IT systems. In the future, however, an AI program will automatically extract this information and insert it into the doctor’s letter. Only the epicrisis, that is, the summary of the overall hospital stay, the conclusions to be drawn and the recommended treatment will still have to be drafted by the doctor for the final full text.
Prof. Jochen Werner, medical director and head of the executive board at University Hospital Essen, wants to make his clinic the first “smart hospital” in Germany – a mission that is already well underway, with the support of Fraunhofer IAIS. “Data is the penicillin of our day,” Prof. Werner announces. He uses his YouTube channel to promote digitalization in medicine, with a view to allaying the fears of medical personnel and patients alike.
University Hospital Essen started the process of converting its hospital information system – which had previously been used primarily as a billing system for medical services – into a data management system more than ten years ago. Now, all the available details on a patient and all the data that is generated during their hospital stay, from blood values and body temperatures to medications, is stored in the Smart Hospital Information System (SHIP). All hospital equipment is connected to this platform, so if a patient’s blood pressure is measured, for example, the device will automatically record this value in the system. An open standard is a prerequisite for this setup, i.e. the software must allow interfacing with SHIP. “An open standard called FHIR is currently being developed in the international healthcare scene. Instead of text fields, this standard works with set codes that can be read anywhere in the world, with meanings like ‘blood pressure decreased’,” explains Mr. Antweiler.