Each year in the United States, more than 795,000 people suffer a stroke, with 140,000 of them fatal. Stroke accounts for 1 out of every 20 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Even when patients survive the initial event, stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability and reduces mobility in more than half of survivors age 65 and over.
The CDC says that patients who arrive at the emergency room within three hours of their first symptoms often have less disability three months after a stroke than those who receive delayed care. But what happens in the ER is just as important as getting the patient there quickly.
In the past, there were few imaging tests to diagnose stroke and only one standard treatment path. Yet it could still be challenging to coordinate the diagnosis and treatment pathway. Today’s new imaging options and treatment choices make that workflow yet more complicated.
Creating an Automated Solution
With the goal of creating a complete solution covering everything from automated detection to timely treatment, Viz.ai uses artificial intelligence technology to synchronize stroke care, reducing systemic delays that stand between patients and lifesaving treatments. “Getting all the pieces together, from multiple imaging studies and providers, is pretty challenging. At Viz.ai, we're using AI and other tools to help fix that workflow,” said Jonathan Mates, MD, Medical Director for Viz.ai. The Viz.ai tool leverages a range of communication tools that enable the synchronization of patient care. It helps get the right patient to the right doctor at the right time for treatment, as fast as possible.
Protecting Patient Confidentiality
As with any AI tool, data security is vital; Viz.ai takes this very seriously. The company has a team of physicians and engineers dedicated to protecting patient data at every stage of stroke treatment workflow, from the CT scan through treatment.
“One of the things that Viz.ai really prides itself on is protecting patient data at all costs,” said Derick En'Wezoh, MD, the Head of Growth at Viz.ai. “We do everything that we can to make sure that hospitals are also thinking about data in the right way. We provide a lot of our expertise to make sure their own systems are safe and secure so we don't have any breaches.”
Going Mobile Streamlines Workflow
The Viz.ai solution includes a mobile app that allows clinicians to securely review CT images in real-time, streamlining the diagnosis and treatment workflow. In one hypothetical example, a 71-year-old man presents with stroke symptoms to a local hospital not equipped to perform a mechanical thrombectomy, the clinically prescribed intervention. The hospital is 30 miles away from a facility with appropriate interventionalists and technology. Per standard of care, the patient would receive a CT scan. In addition to sending those scans to a technologist and the PACS, the scans will also be routed to the cloud, where the Viz.ai technology will analyze them in real-time. If the AI technology identifies a large vessel occlusion (LVO), it will send a notification to the entire stroke team.
The system also automatically creates a maximum intensity projection image (MIP), which helps rebuild the neuro anatomy and vasculature so clinicians can dynamically manipulate MIP settings in real time. Clinicians can also scroll through each image on a mobile viewer. “One of the really cool things that the application also does is enable you to view images in a 3D format,” said Dr. En'Wezoh. “I just click a 3D button to bring the crosshairs towards any particular area of interest. Now I can manipulate and turn the images in any area on a 3D rotation.” Users can see a minute-by-minute breakdown of the stroke workflow in one glance, from initial LVO alert to treatment.
“I can see that at 1:19 a.m/, Viz.ai sent a suspected LVO alert and in the next two minutes, we had five healthcare professionals all looking at this patient's imaging. That's over 100 years of clinical experience, all focused on one patient within two minutes after the scan was completed and processed,” said Dr. En'Wezoh. “I’m challenged to think of another instance in health care where you have that attention.”
Communication Across Facilities and Faculty
One of the most popular features of the Viz.ai tool is its communication capability, which streamlines collaboration between clinicians and sites. The mobile app includes a HIPAA-compliant messaging portal that allows clinicians to send secure texts and images to colleagues. “You can connect with outside facilities and colleagues in one click of a button,” said Dr. En'Wezoh. “Radiologists are excited by this because it enables them to communicate their findings quickly with their colleagues or whoever ordered the imaging.” The system also allows users to see all points of communication, including phone calls, and to track clinical information entered into the system, from when patients receive treatment and where they are in the hospital.
The Future with Viz.ai
Dr. Mates says Viz.ai’s stroke solution is just one example of how AI could be applied to many areas of the healthcare system, including diagnosis and treatment, operations, workflow, and staffing. But he emphasizes that AI is just one tool in the clinical toolbox. “Right now there's a lot of excitement about AI because it's very powerful, but people have to … really think about how they can apply it at different points in the patient's journey,” he said. “My guess is we’ll eventually stop talking about AI because it will be just like processors or electricity – it won’t be amazing anymore. It will be just one of the tools that we use to get the job done.”
Dr. En'Wezoh said he would have been thrilled to use this type of product in his clinical practice, and other clinicians are just as excited to have it in their stroke toolkit. “Customers are so excited because they're getting the information they need. They can trust that it's secure, and they can use it to help get patients to treatment, which is what we're all here for,” he said.
VIZ.ai Enhances Synchronized Workflow in Stroke Care. Appl Radiol.
McKenna Bryant is a freelance healthcare writer based in Nashotah, WI.