OSF HealthCare has developed an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm to predict and distribute work among cancer patient navigators, aiming to alleviate their workload and prevent burnout.

Cancer patient navigators provide essential support to patients, helping them navigate the complexities of diagnosis and treatment.

Developed by a team of researchers from OSF HealthCare, the University of Illinois, and Northwestern University, the algorithm uses patient data from electronic health records to predict upcoming workload and distribute new patients among navigators.

OSF Healthcare senior fellow for innovation Jonathan Handler said: “Our cancer patient nurse navigators are highly dedicated, and their workload can sometimes be overwhelming.

“They never want to shortchange the patient, so they shortchange themselves, working extra hours and sacrificing their own well-being to help patients. We hope our system can even out those workloads and improve their work-life balance.”

In a simulation study, the model reported higher workload fairness compared to random distribution.

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OSF Innovation plans to integrate the algorithm into its platform, OSF Community Connect, to enhance cancer patient navigation.

The next step involves piloting the tool to support navigators in providing optimal care to patients.

Handler added: “At OSF HealthCare, we use innovation to create greater effectiveness, efficiency, and access for patients who want clinical excellence, convenience, support, and a positive patient experience.

“We also take innovative approaches to retain our greatest asset, our mission partners (employees), and to help ensure that OSF HealthCare remains an outstanding and gratifying place to work.”