Artificial intelligence. It’s here.

Artificial intelligence. What comes to mind when you hear that? Arnold in “The Terminator.” That sweet little boy humanoid in Steven Spielberg’s “AI.”

Does the next iteration in improving medicine come to mind? If so, that’s exactly what it is. Artificial intelligence is ushering in a new era of better patient care.

For thousands of years, practitioners used many ways to identify and treat illnesses, from Hippocrates’ approach to folk traditions to astrology. European law in the late 1500s even required physicians to calculate the moon’s position before performing blood-letting or surgery.

In the Far East, traditional Chinese medicine diagnostics still include reading the pulse (28 possible diagnoses) and examining the tongue (reveals potential irregularities with 10 organs).

We’re using AI now.

How has all this impacted Houston Methodist? We’re now using Qventus technology in the Emergency Department (ED).

Qventus does what’s difficult for ED staff to do. It serves as a central brain for the myriad details about all patients in the ED. Then it recommends course correction for staffing, transport, patient discharge and other interventions.

Artificial intelligence is helping us reduce patient wait times, improving the patient experience in the ED. This also frees up patient beds, allowing us to see more patients.

Another process improvement – with this technology we can proactively staff the ED by predicting whether we’ll see a surge in the number of patients arriving. It does this by pulling information about the weather, local news and other sources and analyzing how that may impact the number of patients coming to the ED.

Less time in the ED. Better patient experience.

The details matter. With artificial intelligence, we get the alerts we need to improve patient turnover – predictions and continual status updates. All of this affects how much time patients spend in the ED.

Qventus tells us things like this. High ED census expected in the next one to two hours. Who’s been waiting too long for an X-ray and may leave without being seen. Who’s been admitted as a patient and needs someone to take him or her to a room. Which beds are now empty and need housekeeping to prep for patients in the waiting room.

This is just one of many advancing technologies we’re using to improve patient care, making it easier to achieve our goal of unparalleled safety, quality, service and innovation.