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Decoding medical reports: not only a patient struggle

Article-Decoding medical reports: not only a patient struggle

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Deciphering a lab report, a challenge for some clinicians, can be made easier with AI.

As a diagnostic department of the hospital, the laboratory plays a vital role in disease treatment and prevention. A 1978 study revealed that many physicians, house officers and students overestimated the positive predictive value (PPV) of a laboratory test result when employing prevalence and false positive rate. With the increased use of medical technology in health care, diagnostic test interpretation has become even more crucial.

Challenges and ambiguities with test result interpretation may contribute to diagnostic errors, according to other research. Due to the wide variety of complexity and severity of diseases that primary care doctors witness, they are more likely than specialists to make these errors.

Another study furthermore demonstrated that patients are increasingly using patient portals to access their laboratory test results. However, just allowing access does not ensure comprehension. When evaluating their test findings, patients may get confused.

Paying attention to patients' communication preferences for test results might lead to a more effective and responsive method for delivering these findings.

Patients lean towards electronic results

Research was additionally conducted to determine patient preferences for receiving laboratory test results digitally, and to recognise the factors influencing their decision. When their test results were ready, 98 per cent of participants requested to be alerted through short message service (SMS).

All research participants preferred to receive their test results online, and 82.5 per cent (n = 165) expected both normal and abnormal test findings. The main factor for obtaining results online, according to 77 per cent of participants, was to save time, followed by the risk of missing the results (31 per cent). Approximately 40 per cent believed that receiving results through e-mail was more secure than viewing through a hospital website.

The most common sources of dissatisfaction meanwhile are delays in obtaining test results, missing findings, and results that are misfiled or misreported. Patients are especially interested in adopting internet-based technologies to contact with their healthcare providers, access their clinical data, and acquire timely health information, according to the findings of another research.

Laboratory tests, on the other hand, are difficult to understand. Even medical experts, much alone patients, struggle to read them effectively and accurately. Many websites offer patients test results in a tabular format with conventional reference ranges, comparable to what clinicians receive. As a result, people who are expected to benefit the most from these portals may find them ineffective.

Understanding laboratory results

Medicus AI's flagship product, ’Smart Reports’, is an AI-based health literacy and delivery platform that explains and interprets blood tests and medical reports that offers diagnostic laboratories and hospitals a user-friendly experience for their patients to access, manage and understand their health.

Smart Reports is powered by a medical reasoning engine that uses artificial intelligence to encode medical information and the most up-to-date medical recommendations to accurately imitate the reasoning that clinicians use in similar situations. Medicus AI simplifies the medical reasoning into a practical app that anyone can use.

"Laboratories and hospitals can install Smart Reports on their servers and provide patients with easy-to-understand insights which are characterised by intuitive colors and clear visuals. The product is currently available in five languages and is widely used in Europe, China and MENA regions. Medicus AI can tailor Smart Reports to fit the needs of the healthcare provider, as well as reflect and respect local cultures, habits and needs.

In parallel to what we offer patients, we offer a specific lab report to the doctor as well. Therefore, the experience is tailored to both, with the patient receiving a simple explanation of the medical test result while the doctor receives a version listing the most common causes,” explains Medicus AI’s co-founder and Chief Science Officer Dr. Nadine Nehme.

Empowering patients and clinicians

Dr. Nehme says Medicus AI aims to ‘liberate’ doctors and the healthcare providers from any step that can be automated, while empowering patients by allowing them to access and own their health data.

“Those extra five or ten minutes a physician can save can be allocated to communicating with their patients and understand their concerns, improving overall patient outcomes. In addition, for doctors it provides an informed decision based on quick and easy access to patient profile and medical results, automated reports validation and approval based on a pre-set of rules, determined by the healthcare provider and the ability to track changes in patients' health outcomes through storing and accessing previous reports,” she says.

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