Sutter is the first health system in the U.S. to run quality review on applicable CT lung scans; Ferrum’s AI quality platform aims to reduce medical errors across the patient journey
Sutter Health, a not-for profit healthcare network in Northern California, announced the launch of Ferrum’s artificial intelligence (AI) powered quality platform to deliver higher quality and more consistent care to its patients. Ferrum Health’s next generation technology is designed to improve quality in medical imaging, with the goal of helping Sutter find important diagnoses like lung cancers in their early stages. Ferrum’s technology is helping Sutter support patients through improved outcomes, an enhanced care experience, and a reduced total cost of care over time.
Ferrum’s quality platform analyzes medical images alongside physicians’ written notes. It uses computer vision and natural language algorithms to identify abnormalities and flags them for Sutter clinicians to follow-up with patients and change care plans as necessary.
In August, Sutter Medical Foundation went live with Ferrum’s AI-powered quality system in Sacramento, Calif. to improve lung cancer care, becoming the first in the country to run the technology on applicable CT scans and radiologist reports. The system analyzed documented findings that match, or don’t match, the algorithm’s review of the image.
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“For those rare instances where a nodule is overlooked, we can in a very quick time period—usually within 24 hours—continue the care process instead of waiting until larger nodules are detected at a later medical visit,” said Charles McDonnell III, M.D., a Sutter Medical Group radiologist and associate medical director of risk management. “Having a system for quality coverage of our diagnostic decisions makes us stronger, more effective advocates for our patients, and gives patients greater comfort and peace of mind.”
If there is a potential discrepancy (i.e., a nodule or other abnormality found in the scan but not mentioned in the report), the scan is “flagged” and sent to chest radiology subject matter experts and the department quality committee for further review. Any discrepancies that the subject matter expert finds to be actual nodules which were not found in the initial reading of the scan go back to the initial radiologist. That radiologist can then update his or her report and quickly provide the patient with recommendations for appropriate high-quality care, such as a follow-up at Sutter’s Lung Nodule Clinic.
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According to Jason Wiesner, M.D., a radiologist and medical director of the health system’s Diagnostic Imaging Service Line, estimated discrepancy rates at Sutter were already four times lower than the estimated rate of error nationally. With the implementation of Ferrum’s AI technology within the pilot, this number was reduced even further. In the first 90 days of deployment at Sutter, Ferrum’s AI technology reviewed more than 10,000 CT scans containing lung tissue. Eighty-three of its flagged findings warranted additional radiologist review and intervention. A subset of these patients was confirmed to have findings that needed follow-up care.
“This is a testament to the quality of work done by our radiologists on behalf of our patients,” Dr. Wiesner said. “We are giving our doctors and patients a safety net and ensuring we continue to provide the highest quality of care. This project shows the commitment of Sutter Health to providing the highest reliability healthcare to the communities we serve.”
“We’ve shown the profound impact that quality monitoring technologies can have on identifying opportunities to improve care and prevent potential medical errors,” said Pelu Tran, co-founder and CEO of Ferrum Health. “Most importantly, thanks to the advanced work of both IT teams, it took us just a single day to deploy a platform that improved the quality of diagnostic care for Sutter patients across all of Sacramento – all without impacting their physicians’ workflows. The work we’ve done here is the beginning of a new era in healthcare’s battle against medical errors, and we’re excited to continue to move the field forward alongside quality luminaries like Sutter.”
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