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Te Whatu Ora to pilot AI-assisted clinical coding for hospital admissions project

16 January 2024
By Kate McDonald
Image: iStockphoto

Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand has issued a call for registrations of interest (ROI) from suppliers to take part in an artificial intelligence-assisted clinical coding pilot for hospital admissions.

Te Whatu Ora’s Data & Digital division is managing the pilot, which aims to understand the current state of AI and digital solutions supporting clinical coding and how this will affect a potential future state so that AI-assisted coding can be enabled.

The pilot, which is open to suppliers of automated clinical coding solutions that meet ICD-10-AM certification requirements, will be used to prepare evidence for future funding to scale AI-assisted coding across the organisation.

NZ hospitals are required to classify diagnoses, injuries, external causes of injuries and procedures and report them to the National Minimum Dataset (NMDS) within 21 days of the end of the month of discharge. Clinical notes from discharged patients are clinically coded and recorded in the hospital’s patient management system.

Clinically coded summaries are then stored in the NMDS for analysis. Total discharges reported to the NMDS are approximately 1.2 million a year.

However, coding is still predominantly a manual process by individual teams of clinical coders located around the country. According to the ROI documents, there is no common worklist, with coding teams working independently. Most hospitals code from paper or scanned records as well as some digital systems.

Data & Digital wants to see if AI techniques can help improve speed and accuracy by reducing the time and effort required for coding, as well as help improve the quality of clinical coding. It also wants to create a single worklist to allows Te Whatu Ora to share and allocate work across different locations.

The pilot will involve a test process that will run over two to three months with a pool of money available for participants.

“The test is expected to use an anonymised set of clinical records which have previously coded by Te Whatu Ora,” the ROI says. “We are interested in these records being used to demonstrate the collation of source data, processing, coding and grouping of clinical coding data as well as reporting on the outcomes of this process.”

The ROI is the first step in a multi-step procurement process, with an RFP for the trial released to shortlisted respondents on February 1. Te Whatu Ora expects to sign a contract to begin the pilot on July 1.

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