By Dr. Neerav Sheth, Cardiology Consultants of Philadelphia.
As the healthcare sector continues to embrace emerging technologies like wearable tech and artificial intelligence (AI), it’s crucial that we strike a balance that honors both innovation and patient care. The potential of these technologies to improve cardiovascular care in particular is incredible, but it will require collaboration between healthcare providers, technology companies, policymakers, and patients in order to harness their full potential.
Findings of a new study from the Smidt Heart Institute and the Division of Artificial Intelligence in Medicine at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles found that AI can potentially do a better job of screening for heart disease than trained sonographers. While not totally surprising, it’s important to remember that AI and wearable health tech like fitness trackers and smart watches require human oversight and expertise.
By considering several key factors, we can move toward fully tapping into the complete capabilities of these technologies in cardiovascular prevention and care. That will include ensuring equitable access to these technologies, safeguarding patient data, and providing proper training and education to healthcare providers. It will also require conducting robust evidence-based research and maintaining the provider-patient relationship when utilizing AI in cardiovascular care.
While wearable tech and AI have the potential to revolutionize cardiovascular care, it is important that they are accessible to all patients, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, or geographical location. This will require proactive efforts—such as policy initiatives, education and outreach, collaborations between technology companies and healthcare providers, and community engagement—to bridge the digital divide and ensure that vulnerable populations aren’t left behind in the adoption of these technologies.
Protect Patient Data
As advancements in healthcare technology continue to move to the forefront of care, there will be an ongoing need to prioritize the protection of patient data. Healthcare providers, along with technology companies, should ensure that patient data is collected, stored, and used in a secure and compliant manner, adhering to all relevant data privacy regulations. This should include obtaining proper consent from patients and implementing robust cybersecurity measures to safeguard against data breaches and misuse.
Train and Educate
Healthcare providers need to be trained on how to effectively and safely use these technologies in their practice. Understanding the limitations and potential biases of AI algorithms, learning to accurately interpret data generated by wearable tech, and integrating technology into clinical decision-making processes can’t be forgotten.
Studies have emphasized the importance of training healthcare providers on the ethical and legal aspects of using AI in healthcare settings. Continued education and training programs should be established to keep healthcare providers up to date with the latest advancements in these technologies and medical professionals should be fully aware of advantages of AI as well as its shortfalls.
Conduct Evidence-Based Research
While these technologies hold promise, it is essential to conduct rigorous research to establish their safety, accuracy, and clinical utility. This includes conducting randomized controlled trials, real-world data analysis, and long-term follow-up studies to ensure that the benefits of these technologies outweigh the risks.
Maintain Provider-Patient Relationship
The provider-patient relationship is at the core of quality healthcare, and technology should be used as a tool to support and augment this relationship, rather than replace it. Healthcare providers should strive to strike a balance between utilizing technology for improved cardiovascular care and maintaining meaningful interactions with their patients.
The integration of wearable tech and AI into cardiovascular care has the potential to revolutionize how we prevent and manage heart disease. Wearables like smartwatches, fitness trackers, and remote monitoring devices can collect a wide range of physiological data, while AI can be used to analyze it and provide personalized insights, predictive analytics, and decision support for healthcare providers.
It will be important that we approach this integration with caution and prioritize innovation with a focus on patient care. By doing so we can unlock the full potential of these technologies and usher in a new era of cardiovascular care that benefits all patients.