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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A group of newly published studies outlines how artificial intelligence can be used to improve care in hospitals and enhance clinical trials.

Why it matters: Patients stand to benefit hugely from the use of AI in medicine, but only if there is solid evidence the interventions work — and it can be done without introducing errors or compromising privacy.

What's happening: In a paper published Wednesday in Nature, researchers from Stanford University reviewed the field of "ambient intelligence" — the use of hospitals and homes that employ sensors and AI to improve patient care.

  • They note that as many as 400,000 Americans die each year because of medical errors, many of which could be prevented with smart sensors that alert doctors and caregivers when things are going wrong — or when they're making mistakes.
  • As infrared sensors get cheaper and more ubiquitous, they can be used for everything from detecting whether visitors have washed their hands upon entering a hospital room to alerting doctors when patients are writhing beneath bedsheets.

Yes, but: One challenge in determining the effectiveness of AI in medicine has been the quality of the research itself.

  • A paper published last year found less than 1% of 20,500 studies of AI in health care were good enough for independent readers to have confidence in their conclusions.
  • Now in a pair of studies published Wednesday, researchers laid out the first international standards for the reporting of clinical trials for AI.
  • The rules specifically call on researchers to indicate how AI studies handle poor-quality or unavailable data, as well as how involved humans are in supposedly AI solutions.

The bottom line: We need to know AI can work in medicine before we put it to work.

Go deeper: Artificial journalism gets a trial run

Go deeper

Updated Dec 8, 2020 - Axios Events

Watch: The future of health care payments

On Tuesday, November 9 Axios' Caitlin Owens and Sam Baker hosted a conversation on the future of health care payments, featuring New Enterprise Associates Head of Global Healthcare Mohamad Makhzoumi and Cedar Co-founder and CEO, Florian Otto.

Florian Otto discussed the obstacles to creating a seamless health care payment system and the systemic problems that challenge American health care.

  • On the scope of medical billing's communication problem: "Millions of patients have the same problem: they don't understand the medical bills, they don't get the medical bill, and they land in collections for no real reason. It's really interesting to see that out of the 50 million people and have a bad credit score because of medical debt.
  • On the three key issues in the American healthcare system: "The first big problem is that patients don't really know what they are owed before the visit...The second is the tools and systems that these health care systems use...The third is all this insurance eligibility, determining the co-payment, the coinsurance and the deductible."

Mohamad Makhzoumi discussed how the health care has been impacted by COVID-19 and its acceleration of trends across the industry.

  • On how the pandemic has changed health care: "It's advancing a lot of the trends that have that had been growing but not penetrating health care to a large extent. You think about virtual care and you think about virtual pharmacy, you think about tech disintermediation inside of health care. You think about consumer choice and advocacy."
  • On disruption in the healthcare system: "Primary care is the front door for health care. It's how most of us as Americans access downstream health care, how we get to specialists...That is a part of the healthcare continuum that had yet to be disrupted."

Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei hosted a View from the Top segment with Waystar CEO Matt Hawkins, who unpacked simplifying health care payments and his belief in positively changing the industry.

  • "There are a lot of smart people focused on improving the way health care is administered in the United States. And as we all have seen, there's a lot of private equity and venture capital investments being made in transforming health care as it exists today. So I'm confident that we're going to make tremendous progress more than we've ever made in the next three to five years."

Thank you Waystar for sponsoring this event.

Europe's energy reliance on Russia is a crucial shield for Putin

Photo: Pavel Bednyakov/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Cracks in the NATO alliance regarding sanctions for Russia should President Vladimir Putin order troops into Ukraine are in large part based on energy supply concerns.

Why it matters: Russia holds tremendous leverage over some European countries because it provides roughly 40% of Europe's natural gas supply. In Germany, this figure is greater than 50%.

Why the Fed might want to jolt the markets

Fed chair Jerome Powell at a hearing earlier this month. Photo: Brendan Smialowski-Pool/Getty Images

So far, financial markets are cooperating nicely with the Federal Reserve's efforts to restrain inflation. They're doing the Fed's work for it by creating tighter financial conditions, in a distinctly non-panicky way.

  • But as the central bank's policymakers meet this week, an underlying question they face is whether the adjustment is happening too slowly.