In December Kaiser Permanente announced that it has awarded five healthcare organizations with funding to pursue research projects deploying artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms to enhance diagnostic decision-making in healthcare. One of those projects involves PCCI and Parkland Health’s AI/ML model for pediatric asthma care.

The three-year grant funding is part of Kaiser’s Augmented Intelligence in Medicine and Healthcare Initiative (AIM-HI). The Kaiser Permanente Division of Research (KP-DOR) in partnership with the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation selected five national programs to receive the awards designed to evaluate the implementation of existing algorithms that enhance diagnostic decision-making, identify best practices for scalability, and build capacity for effectively implementing and rigorously evaluating the use of AI/ML algorithms in real-world settings. 

“We’re aiming to cut through the buzz around AI in healthcare to prove the promise and positive impact of this exciting technology for improving patient outcomes,” said Vincent Liu, M.D., principal investigator of AIM-HI, in a statement when the AIM-HI Coordinating Center was launched. “In addition to supporting algorithmic research, the AIM-HI program will develop best practices, and improve the capacity for AI/ML deployment in diverse health care settings. It’s vital that we use these powerful tools thoughtfully and in a way that scales to benefit patients, physicians, and care teams.”

Texas-based PCCI, a nonprofit healthcare analytics research and development organization, and Parkland, Dallas’ community public health system, recently shared some details about the project. They have developed and deployed an AI/ML risk prediction model leveraging EHR data to identify rising asthma risk in pediatric patients. The model generates risk reports to front-line providers and is integrated into Parkland’s EHR to trigger point-of-care alerts during outpatient visits for very-high- or high-risk patients.  The programs also include text-based engagement, education, symptom monitoring and alerting.  

Originally developed and deployed in collaboration with the Parkland Community Health Plan (PCHP) to support the care of Medicaid children across North Texas, the program was expanded to Parkland Health clinics in 2019, and Parkland says it has been highly effective in identifying rising-risk patients and preventing emergency department and hospital admissions for asthma.

The AIM-HI program will test the generalizability of Parkland’s model in two additional large Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs): Los Barrios Unidos (LBU) and Foremost Family Health Centers (Foremost), which serve some of the most underserved and diverse Dallas communities. 

In addition to the organizations directly involved in the AIM-HI program, PCCI and Parkland Health continue to partner with Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) to expand the use of the new Pediatric Asthma Surveillance System (PASS) that describes community-level information regarding pediatric asthma risk factors in Dallas County.

“We are extremely proud and excited to be selected for the Augmented Intelligence in Medicine and Healthcare Initiative,” said PCCI’s CEO, Steve Miff, Ph.D., in a statement. “This is one of the first and most comprehensive grants to date directly focusing on scaling and rigorously evaluating the ethical and equitable applications of AI in diagnostic decision-making in real-world settings.  We are looking forward to not only contributing to advance the adoption of AI in patient care using sound research methods but learning from the industry leading experts at the Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research and the pioneers in AI at the other AIM-HI peer organizations and their partners.”


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