Occupational Therapy OT

| 8 July 2024

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Unveiling the Future: Dr. Elisabeth McGee Shares How USAHS is Uniquely Harnessing the Power of AI

Elisabeth McGee podcast

In the fast-evolving landscape of healthcare and education, innovation signals progress, and at the forefront of this movement is the integration of artificial intelligence (AI). Dr. Elisabeth McGee, PhD, DPT, MOT, MTC, CHSE, Senior Director of Clinical Learning and Innovation at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS), is a trailblazer in educational technology and advancement.

Dr. McGee is deeply enthusiastic about leveraging innovation to improve clinical and learning outcomes. At USAHS, she leads innovation and educational technology initiatives and oversees the management, operations, and educational activities of the Centers for Innovative Clinical Practice (CICPs), Pro Bono Clinical Experiences (PBCE’s), and the Institute for Learning Innovation and Faculty Excellence (iLIFE and iLEARN).

With over 20 years of clinical and academic experience and a robust background in physical therapy, occupational therapy and educational technology, Dr. McGee holds a unique perspective on the intersection of technology and healthcare.

The Med Tech Gurus podcast hosted Dr. McGee to discuss the transformative potential of AI within the education and healthcare sectors. The conversation highlights Dr. McGee’s expertise around AI and how USAHS is utilizing cutting-edge technology to prepare future healthcare professionals.

Listen to the podcast below:

AI’s impact on healthcare and education

Dr. McGee sheds light on the role of AI in reshaping education and healthcare. She emphasizes that AI is a powerful instrument to augment the capabilities of academic initiatives and clinicians.

“It’s not a question of whether we will use AI, but how we can use it effectively to enhance student learning and patient clinical outcomes,” she emphasizes.

At USAHS, CICPs across five campuses support over 6,200 hours of simulation each year. AI-driven virtual simulations serve as a cornerstone of education and provide students with immersive learning experiences that build proficiency. These simulations, often powered by AI-driven avatars or virtual simulated patients, mirror real-world scenarios and train students for the complexities of clinical practice.

“When students transition into fieldwork and beyond, they are confident because they have experience with technologies that prepare them for clinical practice,” Dr. McGee says.

As co-chair of USAHS’ Innovation and Technology Committee (ITC), Dr. McGee guides the strategizing, choosing, integrating and evaluating of educational technologies and methodologies. The committee aims to create learning opportunities that prepare students for successful clinical practice upon graduation. “We’re focused on those outcomes and continue to pilot new technologies,” she says.

Recently, the group has experimented with new and evolving digital technologies, including virtual reality, augmented reality and 3D printing.

Dr. McGee underscores the innovative use of AI in telehealth and pro bono clinics. USAHS runs about 4,500 pro bono clinical experiences and 1,700 telehealth sessions annually. These collaborative efforts, facilitated by faculty and students, reach over 700 underserved patients in the community.

“Leveraging telehealth and AI is breaking down clinical barriers,” Dr. McGee explains.

Students are equipped with AI applications to enhance patient assessment and monitoring. For example, sensors and smart devices can capture vitals, heart rate, sleep cycles, activity levels and movement patterns.

Through telehealth micro-credential programs, students learn to incorporate technology for remote patient care, breaking down hurdles to access and improving healthcare delivery.

Beyond education, AI holds promise in revolutionizing clinical practice, from predictive analytics to AI-powered robotic exoskeletons. These developments empower individuals with spinal cord injuries to reclaim mobility and autonomy.

“AI-powered robotic exoskeletons are an example of a profound innovation,” Dr. McGee explains, “They predict movement patterns and gait cadence and facilitate critical learning to help an individual regain movement.”

Elisabeth McGee podcast

The challenges of AI implementation

Will AI create robots that are going to take over the world?

Dr. McGee emphasized the importance of addressing challenges associated with AI implementation, such as data security and privacy concerns. She explains that as AI evolves, it is imperative to establish policies and guidelines to ensure its safe and ethical use across healthcare and education.

“We need to recognize that some AI tools can automatically produce output that is inappropriate or wrong at times,” she stresses.

She reiterates that AI does not replace teachers, faculty or licensed clinicians. “People must be in the loop with the use of AI. And people are the ones who choose how to assess and use the AI-generated information,” Dr. McGee says.

AI for tomorrow’s innovation

New research on the next phase of clinical practice suggests that being technology savvy will be more critical than ever over the next decade — but that most clinicians still don’t feel prepared. According to the Mayo Clinic, clinical documentation and review may be the leading cause of lost physician productivity in the U.S.

Dr. McGee argues that AI can support clinical efficiency, through dictation, streamlined documentation and other administrative tasks.

She explains that tomorrow’s practitioners can help remedy the ongoing healthcare labor shortage.

“If students receive the right education that integrates innovative technologies and strategies, they will be positioned for success in the workforce.”

Dr. McGee envisions a landscape where AI-driven innovations fill critical gaps in the healthcare workforce and empower the next generation of healthcare practitioners. Through AI technologies, USAHS students learn from their errors, reflect upon the experience and build confidence over time to sharpen their skill sets.

By equipping students with the skills to harness AI effectively, institutions like USAHS can shape the future of healthcare education.

As we navigate the complexities of rapidly advancing technology, it is essential to embrace innovation while upholding ethical standards and safeguarding patient privacy.

Listen to Dr. McGee’s conversation about how we can channel AI to drive positive change for patients and learners on the Med Tech Gurus podcast.


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