AI in the ICU and the Hospitals of the Future: Medicine’s Next Big Thing?

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Published: May. 30, 2022 at 8:46 AM CDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - At one time another, almost all ICUs across the country have been packed to capacity in the past year.

Many patients suffering from severe COVID-19, while others fighting for their lives due to an accident, cancer or heart problems; add all of this to a nursing shortage, and we have a major healthcare problem in the United States. But artificial intelligence may help to relieve the workload and save more lives.

“Artificial intelligence and other technologies can be used to our advantage,” said Azra Bihorac, MD, at the Surgery & Anesthesiology UF University of Medicine.

A group of University of Florida health researchers is using artificial intelligence, capturing information from sensors, meters and cameras, to constantly monitor the most critical of patients.

Dr. Bihorac mentioned, “We utilize pervasive sensing sensors that can be placed on patients in their environment and continuously monitor whatever they are doing.”

In addition to the vital signs, in the ICU of the future, a patient’s pain level will be captured through visual cues such as body movement, muscle twitching and facial expressions. Sensors record head and limb movements, posture and mobility.

Parisa Rashidi, PhD, a biomedical engineer at the University of Florida, explained, “It will help the physicians and nurses monitor the patients, and to also to predict the trajectory of the patients in the ICU.”

Computer algorithms analyze the data flowing from the patient and their room.

“Those are the algorithms that help you predict who is going to get sicker in the next three, four, five hours,” Dr. Bihorac said.

Giving a continuous look into exactly how a patient is doing even when a nurse or doctor isn’t in the room.

Dr. Bihorac also said, “There are like multiple humans observing the patients at the same time and then bringing that information in summarized form to the doctors.”

Up to 50 percent of ICU patients experience delirium. Now, researchers are using AI techniques to look at everything from light levels, noise, and perhaps even odor. Preliminary data shows that the noise level in an ICU can be as loud as trying to sleep beside a busy street. Reducing nightly disruptions and optimizing light and sound levels are a path to potentially preventing ICU delirium.

The ICU and delirium studies, launched last year, run through 2026. Testing in a clinical setting could begin in three years.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer, Editor.

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