Can AI really distinguish between back pain?

11 March 2020


back pain

Researchers from Mount Sinai have developed an artificial intelligence model that has the ability to tell the difference between acute or chronic lower back pain. The AI is able to determine this by going through doctors’ notes in electronic medical records. The world of possibilities for artificial intelligence in the healthcare industry is truly unlimited. MD+DI has reported on a number of different ways AI can be used from diabetes management to helping diagnose concussions.

Now it seems as if researchers from Mount Sinai have developed an AI model that can distinguish between acute or chronic lower back pain by sifting through doctors; notes in electronic medical records. The researchers’ study was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research in February. Acute and chronic lower back pain are different conditions with different treatments. However, they are coded in electronic health records with the same code and can be differentiated only by retrospective reviews of the patient’s chart, which includes the review of clinical notes.

The single code for two different conditions prevents appropriate billing and therapy recommendations, including different return-to-work scenarios. The artificial intelligence model in this study, the first of its kind, could be used to improve the accuracy of coding, billing, and therapy for patients with lower back pain. The researchers used 17,409 clinical notes for 16,715 patients to train AI models to determine the severity of lower back pain.

“Several studies have documented increases in medication prescriptions and visits to physicians, physical therapists, and chiropractors for lower back pain episodes,” Ismail Nabeel, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said in a release. “This study is important because artificial intelligence can potentially more accurately distinguish whether the pain is acute or chronic, which would determine whether a patient should return to normal activities quickly or rest and schedule follow-up visits with a physician. This study also has implications for diagnosis, treatment, and billing purposes in other musculoskeletal conditions, such as the knee, elbow, and shoulder pain, where the medical codes also do not differentiate by pain level and acuity.”


Published by mddionline.com on March 3, 2020
Image by Shutterstock