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EHR Efficiency Takes Extra Training, Optimized Systems, and One-on-One Support

Posted on September 6, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

We all know that physician burnout is a real problem and the EHR gets a lot of the blame for that burnout. Well, the team at UC Davis Health decided to address this problem by creating a team focused on it. They called their team the Physician Efficacy Program or PEP for short. PEP was an interesting name for it since in many ways this team were a bunch of highly trained EHR cheerleaders that work with providers to help them work more efficiently in the EHR.

How did this team work and what did they accomplish? UC Davis Health shared what they did and some of their results in these tweets below:

Those are some impressive results. I think every doctor would love to have 25 hours per month of their life back. I’m sure that some organizations that see this will wonder how their organization could afford to have a PEP team go around and train their physicians. At 25 hours per month saved per provider, the better question is how a healthcare organization can afford to not invest in a team like this.

Now we just need the team at UC Davis Health to share more details about what they did to achieve these efficiency gains. I wonder how many of them were individual tweaks and how many of them were broad system changes. How do we get all the experience and knowledge gained by the team at UC Davis Health to the rest of healthcare?

Pocket Health Sensors

Posted on September 5, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

We’ve long talked about the explosion of wearable sensors that’s happening in the market. The number is amazing. Now I’m just waiting for them to go a little deeper as far as what they can offer that’s clinically relevant. That said, I’m also impressed with how small these sensors are becoming. They can easily fit in your pocket or purse with no problem.

An example of this movement is the ECG that was recently sent to me by SnapECG. They have a wide variety of ECG sensors, but they sent me the SnapECG Handheld ECG Recorder (Available on eBay and Amazon). I have to admit that receiving it was a bit underwhelming. It was so simple to use that it didn’t need much information. That said, it would have been nice to have a little card that said basically that there was nothing for me to do other than download the app on my smartphone and get started.

Regardless it was super easy to unpackage it, download the app and pair it with my smartphone. No doubt I’m a more advanced user and so a few more prompts on the mobile app might be a good idea, but all in all, it was amazing how simple it was to start using the sensor. Plus, there’s something calming about watching the ECG being recorded (maybe they should pair it with a mindfulness app).

After doing the reading, the next challenge was figuring out what to do with the data. There’s an option on the app that says “Professional Advice” but it required a login and so I didn’t want to go that direction. Plus, how did I know the quality of the professional advice? As someone active on social media, I decided to share my report on Twitter and ask my community what else I should do with the reading. The amazing part was how simple it was for me to share that report on social media. It made me really wish that sharing the report with my doctor was that easy…but I digress.

Along with some great snarky replies, I also learned about the difference between a single lead ECG and one that would be used in a doctors office. I even had a doctor reply with the following:


The doctor went on to share that it can measure resting heart rate, target exercise heart rate, and rhythm regular/irregular. Although, he did make clear that the key is for the data to come from a wearable that produced accurate data.

I was aware of this possible issue, but I wonder how many consumers wouldn’t think twice about how accurate the readings from the wearable were for them. I can hear someone reasoning that they bought it at BestBuy or Amazon and so they must have vetted the quality of the reading, right? I’m sure some of you are laughing, but I’m quite sure this is how much research many people do on the accuracy of their wearable devices. I instead look for the FDA clearance which SnapECG has said they’re working on and they’re planning to have it cleared in the middle of September.

The SnapECG was originally launched in China and now they’re bringing it to the US. I’ll admit I’m not that familiar with the Chinese medical device world, but the device has been awarded CE certification (EU) and China’s CFDA certification. A lesson that many chinese companies learn is that those don’t really seem to carry much weight to those of us in the US.

In fact, it should come as no surprise that many people in the US will be skeptical of wearables coming from China and other overseas countries. The smartest thing a company like SnapECG can do is to partner with a trusted US brand like the Mayo Clinic or Cleveland Clinic. Most people in the US will trust something that has been vetted by those organizations who are extremely protective of their brands. Plus, it’s easy to see why their “Professional Advice” app feature would carry a lot more weight if that advice was tied to a well known US healthcare organization than a basically anonymous one with Chinese ties.

At the end of the day, the real question for all of these wearables is what value can you provide the patient and how quickly can you provide that value? Plus, will patients understand the value that a single lead ECG can provide them? And will they understand the limitations of what it can and can’t tell you? This is why the software that comes paired with the device is so important. Plus, as these devices become more and more clinically relevant, you’re going to want that data available to a care provider you trust as well.

Yes, I understand some of the challenges of over monitoring and how that can lead to false positives and unnecessary care that has a wide variety of bad consequences. However, over time I believe we’re going to have the right mix of devices, data analytics, and software that will effectively analyze wearable device data and make it actionable and useful to you as a patient and to your doctor. We’re not there yet, but it’s amazing to see how things continue to evolve even since AliveCor offered the first single lead ECG for mobile devices. It still feels like we’re just getting started and none of us can even imagine what we’ll have 10 years from now.

Hospital Patient Transfers with Optional Protocols

Posted on September 4, 2018 I Written By


The following is a guest blog post by General Devices.

Patient Transfers are business. Serious business for all patients involved; transferring hospitals, transport service, agent and – the patient. They hold the balance to patient care, place and time plus the business side of healthcare. If a patient transfer is initiated and the ED/ EMS staff are unable to follow protocols it could result in not only the breaking of federal law, but also impact outcomes and costs. “Inter-hospital transfers can have negative financial (operational, and liability) implications for the patient, transferring and accepting facilities, and the health care system” (Academic Emergency Medicine: Inter-hospital Transfers from U.S. Emergency Departments; 2013). This article will explain:

  • EMTALA and how it will affect your transfer process
  • The different types of transfers
  • How transfer process and workflow can be made simpler, with less risk, using digital protocols.

In 2017, the United States saw 1,391,712 hospital transfers. Faster approved transfers lead to much better outcomes and more lives saved. Transfers can be necessitated by a multitude of reasons which include overcrowding, limited resources, lack of expertise, proper equipment for a specific treatment specializations, and more. A transfer can happen both during initial transport to the hospital or during the patient hospital stay. There are times where an incoming EMS call is immediately deemed transfer necessary, referred to as a diversion. Other times, a patient could be stablizied in the emergency room or during their hospital stay and require a treatment which is better suited for another hospital. Once the need for transfer is confirmed there are certain liabilities and protocols that must be followed.

E M T A L A, the federal law, requires the patient transferred from one hospital to another to be first stabilized and treated. This can include forms that must be completed, pre-transfer stabilization and preparation, as well as communication between the EDs, the transporting staff and transfer centers. EMTALA includes its’ own steps that must be followed during a transfer.

Transfer centers were established in an attempt to better manage the process. The simple fact is, their communication technologies do not allow team collaboration.

How can a configurable mobile telemedicine app help?

During a transfer, timing is one of the most crucial components to ensure effective patient treatment. Having inflexible protocols potentially restrict the ease of transferring a patient when needed. Every hospital, EMS and healthcare environment operate differently and have different needs, which is why a canned set of protocols will not work for everyone. – This is where a configurable mobile telemedicine solution comes in. Whether it’s an intra-hospital, inter-hospital or EMS transfer, a good mobile telemedicine will give you the capabilities you need to ensure the patients best interests. Proper Documentation is a result of a proper MT app and can be used for audit purposes for workflow improvement and investigating the flaws in the patient transfer.

About GD (General Devices)
GD enables smarter patient care by empowering hospitals, EMS, community healthcare, and public safety with the most comprehensive, interactive, configurable, affordable, and integrated FDA listed medical communications and mobile telemedicine solution. The benefits of which are enhanced workflows, minimized risk, reduced costs and improved patient outcomes.

Should Healthcare Orgs Be Required to Do Zero Cost Accounting?

Posted on August 31, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

During today’s #HITsm chat, Jeremy Coleman made a strong statement about what he believed every healthcare organization should have to do:

What do you think of Jeremy’s idea? Should every healthcare organization be required to do zero cost accounting? Should every hospital know what their trust costs is for someone to spend a night in their inpatient bed?

These are complicated questions, so let’s start the discussion and see if we can share and learn from each other. At the core of these questions to me is a larger question of whether the price of the services we receive in healthcare should be related to their costs. We all know this isn’t the case when we think about the obscene $20 aspirin you get in the hospital. They charge that price for services they offer because they can. Ok, that’s oversimplifying it, but not too much.

Given that costs aren’t associated with the price healthcare organizations charge for things, I wonder how valuable it is to know how much something costs a healthcare organization. Would knowing this information really change how a healthcare organization operates?

What I think we might find if we do this analysis is that the way things are priced in healthcare really makes no sense at all. However, I think it will also illustrate that there’s no easy path to change the way things are priced in healthcare either. It’s going to take a series of incremental changes that in aggregate will equal a dramatic change. I’m just not sure who in healthcare is patient enough to make these types of incremental changes. Plus, many vested interests will fight against these changes.

I wish I remembered who said this, but I recently read someone who said that insurance companies have hidden behind complexity for years. It’s in their best interest to have things so complex that they don’t make sense so that they don’t have to justify the costs. It’s not just insurance companies that have hidden behind complexity in healthcare either.

As Dan Munro, author of Casino Healthcare, often says, “No one group is to blame for the US Healthcare cost crisis because each segment of the industry is complicit.” Said another way, no one wants to mention that the Emperor has No Clothes. I’m afraid this is why we don’t want to do zero cost accounting and really know how much something costs us in healthcare.

Underwhelming Epic Patient Engagement Features from #UGM2018

Posted on August 30, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

John Moore has been live-tweeting the Epic User Group meeting happening this week in Wisconsin. John has shared a lot of interesting perspectives, but I was quite intrigued by this picture he shared of the “Really Cool Software In the Works.” Presumably, these are the big new patient experiences features that will be coming to an Epic EHR software near you.

*Yes, that is Judy at the bottom of the big screen presenting these changes and yes she is dressed up like a park ranger. This year’s Epic User Group theme was The Great Outdoors.

It’s nice to see Epic focusing efforts on the patient experience, but am I the only one that was totally underwhelmed by this graphic?

Let’s start with MyChart Bedside on smartphones. You can see a preview of this here. It’s interesting that Epic chose to create a product like this rather than partnering with companies like Oneview or TVR Communications who already have similar products that would work even better with a nice Epic integration. This is why Epic should embrace an open ecosystem for partners.

The announcements around “Get Rid of Clipboards” and “Skip the Waiting Room” are underwhelming as well. I’ve known companies that have had this solution for a decade or so. Epic is just getting them now?

I have a hard time judging the “Catch a Ride” and “Patient-Entered Social Determinants” features. I’m still not convinced how an Epic connection to Lyft and Uber is going to help patients. How many hospitals will really adopt this and will hospitals really start paying for patients rides with this? If they will, why didn’t hospitals just buy cab rides for patients in the past? Will an integration with Epic change that?

As far as patient-entered SDoH (Social Determinants of Health for those following along at home), are patients really going to do this? Once they do, what will the doctor do with this information? Nothing? On the less pessimistic side, as a fact-finding approach, this could be interesting. Assuming patients are willing to share this information (which may be possible in this world of over sharing) this could be a way to discover what SDoH are most prevalent in an area so that hospitals can then find ways to alleviate these challenges.

Finally, the “Talk to MyChart” feature. We’ve long heard that voice was coming to EHR software. Yes, I’m talking beyond the voice recognition that every EHR software has had forever. First, let me share that I’m a huge proponent of voice. It’s amazing the way Alexa has changed my and my family’s lives. I could be wrong, but the feature mentioned above feels like they’ve just voice enabled MyChart. Is it really that much easier to use voice in MyChart? Even if I enjoy the “pleasant voice”? Color me skeptical that this will really change any behavior. If Epic wanted a big voice empowered announcement it should have been being able to access MyChart through Alexa or Google Home (I’m pretty sure Epic would blame HIPAA on this one). That would be a really cool software.

Of course, here I’m just analyzing one slide in Judy’s presentation. I think John Moore commented that the analytics looked promising, but then he hedged the comment by saying that it was better than their competitors.

What can I say? Epic has made billions. I guess I just expect more from them.

Should EHR Vendors Employ Clinician “Bug” Finders?

Posted on August 29, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Reading through Anne Zieger’s article today about EHR usability and the tie to common safety threats highlighted to me how poorly many EHR vendors do at ensuring their EHR software won’t lead to patient safety issues. As I thought about it more, it reminded me of the work software companies do to ensure there are no software bugs as they roll out new releases of their software. Should we do something similar with patient safety threats?

For those not familiar with the software bug finding process, it can get really intense. No doubt some companies do this better than others, but every EHR software vendor has some sort of software bug finding process. If they don’t, well that’s a whole other issue altogether.

When I was in college I worked at a software company. Along with coding their website, they asked me to take part in their software testing process as well. The goal was to ensure that new releases of the software didn’t introduce new bugs that would cause errors or bad experiences for their users. This was a sometimes fun and sometimes tedious task. Tedious when you couldn’t find any issues and fun when you found something that didn’t work quite right.

I’m sure that software companies have come a long way in their testing scripts, but at the time we used a mix of testing very specific use cases and workflows along with some freestyle testing where we did abnormal workflows to try and get the software to break. Then, we’d report any errors, flaws, bugs, etc we found during our testing. Sometimes these would be new issues introduced by the new code and other times it was flaws that had been in the system for a long time. I won’t go into software programming bug theory here, but the simple description is that all software has flaws. It’s just how many and how impactful are they.

No doubt all healthcare IT software has some sort of software quality testing process. Large EHR vendors likely have full teams of people whose job is to test the latest releases for flaws. As I thought about this, I wondered if any healthcare IT software companies had doctors and nurses on staff whose job was to test for patient safety issues. I haven’t heard or seen anyone do this, but maybe they should.

The idea is simple. Have a doctor, nurse, front desk staff, etc test the latest releases of your software and evaluate patient safety issues with the software. Some of this could be due to a bug in the software and some of it could be due to other factors. However, identifying these issues could inform the programmers on how to better prevent these safety issues from happening.

No doubt, this is opening a bit of a Pandora’s Box. Similar to how all software has bugs, all medical software has potential safety issues as well. The key is to identify those issues, evaluate the impact and likelihood of these issues, and then work on ways to mitigate the risk. I’ll be interested to see how many health systems take on this testing as part of their upgrade cycles as well. No doubt some progressive organizations won’t rely on their EHR vendor to do all the testing.

As I think about the medical malpractice risk associated with EHR software that’s coming down the pipe, I can see an EHRs ability to avoid patient safety issues becoming a powerful feature. Plus, it’s just the right thing to do for the patient.

Changing Leadership’s Mentality to Be More Agile

Posted on August 28, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

It’s become increasingly clear that most healthcare CIOs have become leaders and vendor managers. The CIO of today needs to have an understanding of technology, but the majority of their job is managing people and vendors. Hospital CIOs aren’t managing technology.

Much of what a CIO can accomplish is based on the mentality and behaviors they inspire in their people. One of the latest trends in technology thinking is around agile. Many in healthcare have pushed against the concept of agile in healthcare supposing that agile equals reckless. However, it’s been proven that just because you choose to change quickly and efficiently doesn’t mean that you’re changing recklessly in ways that will harm patients.

The move to agile has been hard for many hospital CIOs. This was highlighted recently by hospital CIO, David Chou when he shared this image and tweet:

Culture change in an organization is not really something you can buy. Plus, as the quote specifies, the change to an agile culture is really hard because it is often not the behaviors that put leaders in senior positions in the first place.

The biggest fear with any change is failure. Ironically, an agile approach embraces failure as part of the learning process and incorporates a quick recovery when something goes wrong. This is a massive change in mindset for many senior healthcare executives. It goes counter to the group decision making driven by large committees that occurs in most of healthcare. That’s why it’s scary and why most CIOs don’t do it. However, it’s exactly what’s needed to be prepared for the future.

Medical Device Vulnerability List Topped By User Authentication Problems

Posted on August 27, 2018 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

The Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT), a government organization which addresses threats to US infrastructure, helps numerous industries share data on cybersecurity threats. This includes building a repository of cybersecurity advisories which medical device manufacturers can use to communicate with customers.

According to a new analysis by security vendor MedCrypt, the number of cybersecurity threats reported to ICS-CERT has been growing over time. ICS-CERT released 47 advisories related to medical devices between 2013 and August 1, 2018, which included a total of 122 cybersecurity vulnerabilities.  While 12 advisories were released between October 2013 and late December 2016, it issued 35 advisories between late December 2016 to August 1 of this year. Also, while six companies were identified as having faced cybersecurity issues during the first interval, 18 were noted during the second.

The number of vulnerabilities noted has climbed as well, from 37 during the first time period to 85 during the second. According to the MedCrypt analysis, 66% of the reported advisories were related to code defects and user authentication issues. The most common cause was user authentication, which climbed from 16 to 36 instances between the two time periods, followed by code defects, which increased from 5 to 24 instances. Other areas of vulnerability included encryption issues, third-party libraries, system configuration and operating system problems.

It’s hard to determine what all of this means by scanning these statistics, interesting though they may be, but MedCrypt had some additional observations to share about the ICS-CERT data as a whole:

  • The complexity of the vulnerabilities discovered is likely to increase. Some of the more deeply technical kinds of vulnerabilities found in other ICS-CERT participating industries haven’t turned up in medical device disclosure data, including less than 10% of those found in subcategories, but they will. “Most [advisories] have focused on ‘low hanging fruit,’ like user authentication,” the report observes.
  • So far, ICS-CERT participants have reported finding few vulnerabilities related to cryptography issues, such as vulnerability reports citing the commonly-used OpenSSL open-source encryption library.
  • User authentication problems are becoming more common, accounting for 42.3% of vulnerabilities included in advisories after January 1, 2017. The report suggests the future advisories will address concerns emerging from deeper in the technology stack as medical device cybersecurity matures.

As connected medical devices become standard in healthcare organizations, medical device makers will spend more resources on securing them, and eventually, they will bake cybersecurity protections into their engineering, R&D and quality processes, MedCrypt predicts.

Health IT Consulting Demand To Explode This Year

Posted on August 24, 2018 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

As payment models shift from fee-for-service to value-based care, hospitals are having to adopt new technologies and tweak existing ones. The thing is, it takes a mighty team of IT pros to make all this happen. In some cases, a provider has enough resources to handle this kind of big transition, but most need some help, especially when they’re handling major infrastructure improvements or even switching out technologies.

This seems to be at least part of what’s driving a dramatic increase in spending on health IT consulting, according to a new study from Black Book Research. The study drew on input from 1,586 professionals with knowledge of the US health IT industry.

Black Book concluded that health IT management consulting spending has grown from $20 billion in 2016 to $45 billion last year. Not only that, the firm expects to see this number climb to nearly $53 billion for 2018. That’s a massive increase, particularly given that providers were already spending heavily on consultants as they beat their enterprise EHRs into shape.

According to the analyst firm, 64% of last year’s spending paid for implementation of software, information systems, systems integration and optimization and support for mergers and acquisitions. This summary covers a lot of ground, but it’s hardly surprising given the drastic changes underway.

Going forward, respondents expect three key forces to drive healthcare consulting spend, including a lack of highly-skilled IT professionals (cited by 81% of respondents), adoption of cloud technology in healthcare (74%) and growing industry digitalization (71%). (I’d also expect to see investment in new organizational infrastructures — for, let’s say, ACOs)  — will continue to increase in importance as well.)

Providers responding to the study said that they expect to hire health IT consultants for EHR and RCM system optimization (61%) and to offer expertise in software training and implementation (46%) next year. Other areas providers hope to address include value-based care (39%), cloud infrastructure (36%), compliance issues (33%) and a grab bag of big data, decision support and analytics projects (31%).

The vast majority of respondents (84%) said they expect to enter into a wide range of consulting agreements to include work with single-shop consultants, single freelancers, group purchasing organizations, HIT vendors, networks of freelancers, boutique advisory firms and traditional major consultancies, Black Book reported. In other words, it’s all hands on deck!

Facebook Partners With Hospital On AI-based MRI Project

Posted on August 23, 2018 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

I’ve got to say I’m intrigued by the latest from Facebook, a company which has recently been outed as making questionable choices about data privacy. Despite the kerfuffle, or perhaps because of it, Facebook is investing in some face-saving data projects.

Most recently, Facebook has announced that it will collaborate with the NYU School of Medicine to see if it’s possible to speed up MRI scans.  The partners hope to make MRI scans 10 times faster using AI technology.

The NYU professors, who are part of the Center for Advanced Imaging Innovation and Research, will be working with the Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research group. Facebook won’t be bringing any of its data to the table, but NYU will share its imaging dataset, which consists of 10,000 clinical cases and roughly 3 million images of the knee, brain and liver. All of the imaging data will be anonymized.

In taking up this effort, the researchers are addressing a tough problem. As things stand, MRI scanners work by gathering raw numerical data and turning that data into cross-sectional images of internal body structures. As with any other computing platform, crunching those numbers takes time, and the larger the dataset to be gathered, the longer the scan takes.

Unfortunately, long scan times can have clinical consequences. While some patients can cope with being in the scanner for extended periods, children, those with claustrophobia and others for whom lying down is painful might have trouble finishing the scanning session.

But if MRI scanning times can be minimized, more patients might be candidates for such scans. Not only that, physicians may be able to use MRI scans in place of X-ray and CT scans, both of which generate potentially harmful ionizing radiation.

Researchers hope to speed up the scanning process by modifying it using AI. They believe it may be possible to capture less data, speeding up the process substantially, while preserving or even enhancing the rich content gathered by an MRI machine. To do this, they will train artificial neural networks to recognize the underlying structure of the images and fill in visual information left out of the faster scanning process.

The NYU research team admits that meeting its goal will be very difficult. These neural networks would have to generate absolutely accurate images, and it’s not clear how possible this is as of yet. However, if the researchers can reconstruct high-value images in a new way, their work could have an impact on medicine as a whole.