Mount Sinai researchers have designed an artificial intelligence model that they suggest could determine whether lower back pain is acute or chronic by scouring doctors’ notes within electronic medical records.

This approach may help treat patients more accurately, according to a study published recently in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

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 could be used to improve the accuracy of coding, billing, and therapy for patients with lower back pain, a media release from The Mount Sinai Hospital/Mount Sinai School of Medicine suggests.

In the study, researchers used 17,409 clinical notes for 16,715 patients to train artificial intelligence 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,” says Ismail Nabeel, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

“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,” Nabeel adds.

[Source(s): The Mount Sinai Hospital/Mount Sinai School of Medicine, EurekAlert]