Feb 28, 2021

OSF Healthcare aims to boost child vaccines with AI and data

mobile clinics
healthcare inequalities
Leila Hawkins
3 min
OSF Healthcare aims to boost child vaccines with AI and data
OSF Healthcare is creating smart childhood mobile vaccine clinics using artificial intelligence and heat maps...

Illinois healthcare provider OSF Healthcare is using AI to develop a mobile vaccination programme for children in underserved communities. 

The organisation identified that despite free vaccinations being available to low-income families through a federal program, many children are either not being vaccinated, are being vaccinated late for their age, or don’t complete the course of their immunisation schedule. 

The project is getting underway thanks to a grant of almost $75,000 through its Jump ARCHES program, a partnership between OSF and the University of Illinois College of Medicine. An additional $30,000 is being provided through the Illinois Innovation Network, a group of educational institutions working with businesses to develop new technology solutions. 

OSF is also developing digital tools that will collect information during mobile clinics to help address social determinants of health, such as access to food, transportation, and income factors among others.

These digital solutions will be created and tested for use at the healthcare provider's Innovation Design Lab. Director Scott Barrows explains that their teams will use machine learning algorithms to build artificial intelligence models that can accurately identify the geographical areas that have the greatest need for childhood vaccinations. 

“We will be both gathering information plus applying new apps and new ways to gather information about what a community’s needs are, and some of them are quite dramatic” Barrows says. 

This will help towards solving the root causes that influence why kids aren’t vaccinated.  “The social determinants of health impact everything really, and that is involved in almost every app and technological intervention we create" Barrows adds. 

Another partner, Illinois State University, will use AI to create heat maps that identify the locations with the most concerning rates of under-vaccination, while also predicting the supply needs in high risk areas. 

Barrows believes the project can serve as a blueprint for future funding to increase resources within communities; for instance include a reminder system for families who have visited a mobile clinic to keep on a routine vaccination schedule.

Elise Albers, Population Health manager for OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois (CHOI), says that mobile clinics can increase vaccination rates because they allow kids to receive their shot in a setting where they are comfortable. 

 “We really are cautious when entering a new community and we know that there are trust issues, especially with vaccines" she says. "We really focus on making sure that we build trust with a community before we come in and offer services like vaccines.”

Flu vaccination clinics have also provided education to counter misinformation. Barrows also thinks this grant work could provide a roadmap for dealing with COVID-19 vaccinations once they become available for children. The end goal is to have enough mobile clinics to positively impact kids’ health which, in turn, could lower health care costs by reducing visits to the hospital emergency department.                         

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Jun 18, 2021

Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool 

2 min
Skin Analytics uses AI to detect skin cancer and will be deployed across the NHS to ease patient backlogs

An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system. 

NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion. 

Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making. 

In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog. 

Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening. 

DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.

Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.

Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges. 

"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”

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