Skip to main content

Intermountain Trains AI on Cancer Care Management

Analysis  |  By Eric Wicklund  
   May 06, 2024

The health system will be launching a new platform this month to improve care management for patients in cancer treatment

As health systems across the country look for small but significant ways to use AI, Intermountain Health is putting the technology to work improving care management for patients in cancer treatment programs.

The Salt Lake City-based health system is partnering with San Francisco’s Memora Health on a care management platform designed to reduce the workload on nurses and give patients quick and seamless access to the resources they need.

"The moment a person is diagnosed with cancer, their life changes,” Derrick Haslem, MD, Intermountain’s senior medical director for cancer care, said in a March press release announcing the partnership. “Being able to provide consistent communication with patients to address questions and concerns about their care is critical and very important to us, Memora's technology helps our busy care teams with daily tasks and empowers them to focus on what matters most: delivering high-quality care to our patients."

Phil Wood, program director for Intermountain Ventures, says the health system is looking for ways to insert AI into care management pathways that typically take a lot of time and effort. By using the technology to handle messaging, which is primarily and administrative task, Intermountain is freeing up its nurses and clinicians to focus on clinical work.

“It doesn’t change the messaging,” Wood points out. “Clinicians want to have control over the patient’s care. This [creates] a more effective way of communicating … and gives nurses back their time to focus on more acute and urgent cases.”

The platform uses AI to help patients with their care plan once they’ve left the hospital or doctor’s office, answering patient questions and guiding them to online resources. When a question or concern is complex, the system connects the patient with the care team for follow-up.

Wood, noting Intermountain hopes to have the program up and running by the end of this month, says success hinges on whether the patients engage with the platform and feel comfortable with the technology. Early KPIs will focus on engagement surveys and patient satisfaction scores, while other benchmarks will target whether patients follow their care plans, especially in medication adherence, and whether operational workflows are improved.

As health systems look to adopt consumer-facing technology, healthcare leadership will need to focus on those questions. Where can technology replace a clinician and where might it interfere with the relationship between doctor (or nurse) and patient? And can the platform (and the health system) adjust to patients uncomfortable with the technology and preferring more in-person interactions?

Wood says the oncology space is the ideal space to test the platform because of the importance of communicating with patients at home. Once this program is established and the value proven, he expects to expand it to other surgical services, and perhaps eventually into chronic care management. At the same time, Intermountain will be looking for new opportunities for EHR integration as the health system continues its switch from Cerner to Epic.

“Having an easy way for the patient to interact with the health system” is crucial to improving patient engagement and clinical outcomes, he says.  

Eric Wicklund is the associate content manager and senior editor for Innovation, Technology, and Pharma for HealthLeaders.


Intermountain Health is partnering with Memora on a platform that uses AI to handle communications with patients in cancer treatment

The platform is designed to improve patient engagement while giving nurses less administrative tasks and more time to handle clinical tasks.

The key to success will lie in whether patients feel comfortable interacting with an AI platform, as well as whether the platform meets their needs.

Get the latest on healthcare leadership in your inbox.