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Artificial intelligence could boost health care in underserved communities

Is health insurance that doesn't cover hospital care worth having?
Is health insurance that doesn't cover hospital care worth having?

The combination of advancing technology and medical education are working together to provide better medical care to residents in South Dakota, regional health care leaders say.

Dave Flicek is the Chief Operating Officer for Avera Health. He said the future of medicine is based in advancing AI technology.

Flicek said competition in integrating AI into normal medical practice is sure to develop more life-saving technology in the years to come.

“I think we will be assisted by AI going forward. I think health care is only going to get clinically stronger which means were all going to live older. How are we going to help that whole throughput of homecare, you know we might be taking care of more people at home through telemedicine quite frankly than even having them come in to us," said Flicek. "That’s kinda were I see it happening. We will be using the home as the hospital.”

Flicek also emphasized the need for the states’ education system and hospitals to work together to develop more efficient means of bringing AI into medical practice.

He offered an example of how AI can be integrated to serve patients and used to provide relief to medical professionals.

“We have a new program that it will be virtual nursing, basically it is AI tested. There’s quadrants on the camera, so we'll have a camera watching the at risk fall patients. If they move out of a quadrant, someone centrally will be notified that Mr. Flicek is moving, you need to get in there and help them. Verse having eight individuals sitting in eight different rooms,” said Flicek.

Virtual doctor visits could also benefit those who live in rural areas. This could be especially important for patients who have trouble leaving their homes due to weather or medical ailment.

Paul Hanson is the President for Sanford Health in Sioux Falls. He said Sanford also sees a technology-based future.

“I think technology is going to impact our medical models. I think the investments we make in technology is going to be significant. I think about our relationship with Dakota State and what that can mean for cyber security opportunities. There is just so many things we can align ourselves with within the communities,” said Hanson.  

Hanson said both hospital systems benefit from competing on integrating more technology into the medical field.

Evan Walton is an SDPB reporter based in Sioux Falls. Evan holds a Master’s in English Literature from Southern New Hampshire University and was honorably discharged from the United States Army in 2015, where he served for five years as an infantryman.