Daily Briefing – August 1, 2019

“You could be forgiven for thinking that A.I. will soon replace human physicians based on headlines such as “The A.I. Doctor Will See You Now,” “Your Future Doctor May Not Be Human,” and “This A.I. Just Beat Human Doctors on a Clinical Exam.” But experts say the reality is more of a collaboration than an ousting: Patients could soon find their lives partly in the hands of A.I. services working alongside human clinicians. There is no shortage of optimism about A.I. in the medical community. But many also caution the hype surrounding A.I. has yet to be realized in real clinical settings. There are also different visions for how A.I. services could make the biggest impact. And it’s still unclear whether A.I. will improve the lives of patients or just the bottom line for Silicon Valley companies, health care organizations, and insurers. “I think that all our patients should actually want A.I. technologies to be brought to bear on weaknesses in the health care system, but we need to do it in a non-Silicon Valley hype way,” says Isaac Kohane, a biomedical informatics researcher at Harvard Medical School.”

“Blue Cross Michigan sued for $40 million by four substance abuse centers, alleging low payments, wrongfully denied claims Four treatment centers allege daily inpatient rates were cut from $900 per day to $150 at the height of the opioid crisis Many patients treated at the centers also received “surprise bills” when coverage was denied, lawsuit alleges Four substance-abuse treatment centers in Michigan owned by U.S. Addiction Services sued Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan on Wednesday for more than $40 million in unpaid claims involving more than 4,000 patients, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. A spokesman for New York-based law firm Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, which is representing the plaintiff, said one of the providers was forced to close and the other three turned patients away because Blue Cross “refused to provide meaningful coverage for addiction treatment.”

“July 31, 2019 – Only 3.8 percent of psychiatrists think it is likely that artificial intelligence will completely overtake their jobs in the future, according to a global survey conducted by Sermo. Just 17 percent believe the technology is likely to replace a human doctor’s role in providing empathetic care, and 67 percent said it was unlikely that artificial intelligence and machine learning could ever replace psychiatrists for mental status examinations. Sermo, in partnership with researchers from Duke University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School, surveyed 791 psychiatrists across 22 countries. The first-of-its-kind study asked mental health professionals to assess the likelihood that AI would be able to replace, and not just assist, human psychiatrists. The findings showed that most psychiatrists don’t think AI will replace human doctors in performing several essential tasks. These include evaluating homicidal thoughts (58 percent), interviewing patients in a range of settings to collect their medical histories (58 percent), and formulating personalized treatment plans (53 percent). In contrast, the majority of participants do believe it is likely that AI will replace humans in updating patient medical records (83 percent) and synthesizing patient information to make diagnoses (54 percent). Forty-seven percent said they believe AI and machine learning will change their jobs moderately over the next 25 years.”

“Andrew Vernon is a former Department of Veterans Affairs employee and in 2017 was appointed by the Volcker Alliance as one of 41 rising Federal Government Leaders nationwide to discuss “Preparing Tomorrow’s Public Service, What the Next Generation Needs.” On June 6, 2019, the Department of Veterans Affairs implemented the MISSION Act, which makes it a priority to offer veterans urgent-care services in the private sector when set criteria are met. This has been one of the most visible pieces of the new law. However, what has not been well publicized are changes to the rules for those seeking mental health services. This is unfortunate, seeing how the VA has stated on several platforms that it is doing everything possible to improve mental health care and prevent veteran suicides. According to the new rules, if a veteran experiences a 20-day wait time or longer at VA mental health facilities, a conversation can be held with the vet’s Primary Care Provider (PCP) to allow access to mental health care in the private sector. In addition, if the veteran must drive more than 30 minutes to the nearest VA facility, a conversation is encouraged during an appointment with their VA PCP to enter a consult for private mental health services.”