How Healthcare Firm Regard Uses Artificial Intelligence To Usher Medicine Into The Modern Age
Los Angeles-based Regard exists to achieve one goal: make clinical workflows more accessible to physicians by streamlining them. A report from the University of Chicago published last year shared results of a study that found doctors “don’t have enough time to fulfill all patient care needs” if they adhered to the recommend guidelines for rendering effective care. The study discovered it would take more than 24 hours in a day—specifically, 26.7 hours—for doctors to provide adequate care given all their responsibilities, which include administrative tasks like updating charts, writing prescriptions, and more. .
“There is this sort of disconnect between the care we’ve been trained to give and the constraints of a clinic workday,” said the paper’s lead author Justin Porter, who serves as an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, in a quote included in last August’s story on the study. “We have an ever-increasing set of guidelines, but clinic slots have not increased proportionately.”
Regard’s whole raison d’être is to rectify said disproportionality. As with countless other companies, Regard is harnessing artificial intelligence and machine learning in order to address these problems. On its website, Regard describes its work as “[analyzing and synthesizing] patient data, recommend diagnoses, automate note-taking, and capture missed revenue.” It accomplishes this by hooking into a provider’s electronic health record, or EHR. (The EHR, coincidentally, is what Apple is hooking into via an API to power its Health Records feature on iOS.)
“Regard has developed software that helps physicians enhance their practice of medicine. The AI co-pilot is fully embedded into the electronic health record and emulates a physician performing chart reviews,” said Regard co-founder and chief executive Eli Ben-Joseph in an interview with me via email. “Like a medical resident, the technology summarizes the data, suggests new diagnoses, supports existing diagnoses, and automatically generates a draft note. The result drives more efficient and higher-quality notes that enhance patient safety by ensuring all diagnoses are uncovered, reduces physician burnout, and drives revenue. This is all achieved by improving the quality of clinical documentation through data.”
According to Joseph, the crux of the issue is burnout. It’s simply unsustainable for clinicians to provide quality care to patients while simultaneously satisfying the insatiable needs of the bureaucracy. Joseph described the burnout rate “astonishing,” telling me close to two-thirds, or nearly 63%, of physicians are reporting such high levels of stress and anxiety that scores of professionals are leaving the industry because of it. The direness is plain to see: less doctors means less effective healthcare for people, particularly those who require acute care.
“Burnout has become an epidemic… the problem is so immense that it is leaving hospitals and healthcare systems understaffed and overburdened as they struggle to provide quality care in a low-margin environment,” Joseph said.
With Regard, Joseph and team has resolved to free doctors from the drudgery (and relative unimportance) of sitting in front of a computer, mindlessly entering data, and return them to the exam rooms in which they belong. In other words, Regard wants to get doctors back to actually practicing medicine. In the aggregate, Joseph hopes Regard can achieve balance—addressing the human component by minimizing burnout while enhancing quality in the documentary sense.
Joseph explained Regard uses proprietary algorithms in its AI technology, likening the company’s work to what he called a “clinically-focused ChatGPT,” referring to OpenAI’s popular new AI-driven chatbot. Regard’s technology, Joseph told me, “mines the entirety of a patient’s medical history through their EHR,” adding the technology helps “reduce the time physicians spend on documentation, reducing burnout, decreasing errors, and optimizing the diagnostic and billing processes.” The end result of the process, he said, has heightened quality of care, as well as increased hospital reimbursements and, perhaps most importantly, revenue.
Regard’s work seems to be paying dividends thus far. “Recent studies show a 30% reduction in measures of burnout amongst clinicians using Regard,” Joseph said.
Feedback-wise, things are looking well for the Regard team. Joseph was keen to share that comments from healthcare professionals, hospital administrators, and patients have been “wonderful and very positive,” he said. Joseph added physicians have reported Regard’s product has been “life-changing” and that it “cuts down documentation time exponentially.” For their part, administrators are reporting to Regard that doctors are “reporting lower levels of burnout” and that it’s helped “drive revenue by more completely supporting the acuity of their patients with higher quality notes.” All told, Regard’s plan is working.
Looking towards the future, Joseph is optimistic for Regard’s outlook and for the ongoing digitalization of healthcare methodologies. There’s more work to be done.
“When I started Regard I had one goal in mind: to create the doctor of the future,” he said of his true motivation to start Regard. “I believe the doctor of the future will be heavily supported by augmentative AI and will be able to make use of all patient clinical data, from formal medical records to data from devices such as Apple Watch, to build personalized recommendations custom tailored to each patient. As I look to the future, I hope to leverage the technology we’ve already built to move toward a more digital and personalized practice of medicine.”
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