Dr. Cam Patterson, chancellor of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, says that by this Spring he expects a patient anywhere in Arkansas to be able to access a healthcare provider 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“We are committed to making this happen. In fact, we are committed that by the end of this Spring, you will be able through your cellular phone to access a UAMS healthcare provider 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for any urgent care issue that you have as long as you’ve got one foot in the state of Arkansas,” Patterson said in an exclusive Talk Business & Politics interview.
The UAMS chancellor said a lot of foundation has been laid for digital health across the UAMS network, which covers 73 of Arkansas 75 counties. Patterson said there is already maternity and spinal digital care and more is on the way.
“We’ve been fortunate with [Dr.] Curtis Lowery and other visionaries to be well out in front of the pack in terms of digital health applications. We’ve got digital health programs that provide services like maternal-fetal medicine so that high-risk moms can stay in their communities rather than having to move to central Arkansas for the terminal part of their pregnancies. We do digital spine work across the state and a number of other key programs, but we can do a lot more,” he said.
To provide an illustration, Patterson described that the parents of a sick child who lives 45 minutes from Pine Bluff could tap into the UAMS digital network and get a diagnosis that justifies the trip to the hospital or be counseled for an in-house, over-the-counter solution that saves time, travel and money.
“This will be a game-changer for us,” Patterson said. “I am committed to the idea that two years from now, people across the country will say, ‘The state of Arkansas is the rural state that has done digital health better than anyone else.'”
Patterson also described how additional technology, particularly artificial intelligence, is impacting healthcare at UAMS.
“There’s a big place certainly for advanced computer algorithms in improving healthcare. It’s not going to replace your doctor today – which may or may not be a good thing depending on your relationship with your doctor – but it’s coming and, in fact, in many ways it’s already here,” he said.
He said AI is expected to improve efficiencies for the hospital through scheduling, procedure predictions, and other enhancements.
“Imagine that you have a patient who comes into the hospital and the algorithms predict that you’re going to need a rehab medicine consult as a barrier before you leave the hospital. These algorithms can go ahead and activate that consultation so that you’re not at the end of a hospitalization and then saying, ‘This hospitalization needs to be extended for another day or two,’ for something that we should’ve predicted could happen now,” he said.
You can watch Patterson’s full interview, in which he discusses UAMS’ effort to become a National Cancer Institute, in the video below.