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Artificial Intelligence and the Practicing Allergist

What You Need to Know About This Innovative Technology
Is artificial intelligence (AI) something that can be used reliably by practicing allergists? According to Nick L. Rider, DO, FAAAAI, the answer is yes - depending on how one defines ‘reliably.’
“AI is certainly something that can be used, but it’s not perfect,” Dr. Rider said. “If we define reliability as something that can bring consistent value, then yes, there are ways it can benefit a practice.”
Nick L. Rider, DO, FAAAAI
Dr. Rider is a Board Certified Clinical Informaticist and has been doing research in AI for about five years. He was initially interested in developing machine learning approaches to close the gap in diagnostics for primary immune disorders. “I wanted to use healthcare big data to build algorithms that may identify those at risk for primary immune disorders. This work led me to several grant-funded projects, where I obtained and used data science skills and learned to build machine learning models,” he said.
According to Dr. Rider, a lot has been done with research in AI that hasn’t made it to the clinic level yet, but it’s coming. “Already, AI is a part of society and healthcare, and it is only going to increase. In the coming years, established allergists should look to our fellows-in-training and medical students, because just like with all generations there’s a level of technical sophistication embedded into their educational programming that we didn’t have in our training.”
Most practices are already leveraging AI that is aligned to their electronic health record (EHR) system, because many of these vendors are already using it. Because of this, you may be able to make greater use of AI without additional costs. “See what can be utilized based on the software you are already using,” said Dr. Rider. “AI functionality that is baked into your EHR software is the easiest way to integrate AI into your practice at this time.”
When asked about what types of AI tools are already available, Dr. Rider presented ambient listening as an example. Ambient listening can be used to listen to a conversation between physician and patient. You can tell the model to put the conversation into note format, including specifics like vital signs which saves you time with documentation. “It’s often available with your EHR but isn’t accessible to everyone right now,” Dr. Rider explained. “Select organizational leaders may have access to it as they work through bugs and prepare to make the technology available more broadly. Practicing allergists can talk to their EHR vendor or IT/informatics team to see about obtaining access, or if other AI tools are currently available to them.”
Of course, as with any technology, there are considerations one has to keep in mind while using AI, Dr. Rider explained. AI is only as good as the quality of the data that was used to train it. Disparities, in particular, need to be considered, as they already exist in healthcare and AI can perpetuate them. And just like your EHR needs oversight, so does AI, both when implementing the technology and making sure the technology is sustained to do what was intended.
Dr. Rider will be presenting during the 2024 AAAAI Practice Management Workshop, where he plans to provide examples of AI that is being used in practices and share the AI opportunities that will be available for practice use in the future. “I really want to show practicing allergists how they can use this new technology and emphasize that you don’t need to be a technology expert to use these tools,” he said.
If you’re interested in keeping up with the latest on AI, he suggests following allergy specialty organizations like the AAAAI or informatics organizations like the American Medical Informatics Association. “It may also be helpful to have a member of your practice join the Health Informatics, Technology & Education (HITE) Committee with the AAAAI, to keep track of the latest in all types of technology tools, including AI.”