© 2022 90.5 WESA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Health--it's what we all have in common: whether we're trying to maintain our health through good habits or improve our failing health. "Bridges to Health" is 90.5 WESA's health care reporting initiative examining everything from unintended consequences of the Affordable Care Act to transparency in health care costs; from a lack of access to quality care for minority members of our society to confronting the opioid crisis in our region. It's about our individual health and the well-being of our community.Health care coverage on 90.5 WESA is made possible in part by a grant from the Jewish Healthcare Foundation.

Artificial Intelligence Software Could Help Make Health Care Contracts Air-Tight

Rich Pedroncelli
Pictured are inmate medical records at a facility in Sacramento, Calif.

Health care providers enter into dozens of contracts with outside companies, like medical record disposal or storage entities, that have access to patients’ medical information.

Dan Mulholland, senior partner at the health law firm Horty Springer, said these contracts come and go so frequently that they're not always reviewed by a lawyer because of cost and time constraints. But even tiny errors in the documents can create huge liabilities if patient information is mishandled. 

"There have been some fines for privacy breaches, imposed under HIPAA, that have been in the millions of dollars," said Mulholland. 

Mulholland said AI software created by local start-up LegalSifter could provide a sort of advanced spell check to clients. 

LegalSifter CEO Kevin Miller said that the program is made up of various algorithms called "sifters" which are created to recognize certain bits of language, or concepts. 

"A sifter has one job: to find its concept, or say that it's not there, in a particular document," said Miller.

In about a minute, the collection of sifters can read through a contract to determine if all the correct language is there.

"This is a quick way for someone to say 'This contract looks OK' or 'Time-out, I've got to talk to the lawyers because it's missing a clause that maybe the government says [is required],'" said Mulholland.

Mulholland said that in the next few weeks, Horty Springer will begin offering LegalSifter's product directly to the law firm's clients. The software doesn't make the information itself more secure, but can help protect providers from legal liability in the event of a breach.

Mulholland said he's not concerned about artificial intelligence taking lawyers' jobs any time soon.

"This just makes us more more efficient," Mulholland said, adding that he believes offering the product to clients at an affordable price, below the typical fee or rate for reviewing this kind of document, will create an additional stream of revenue for the firm.

Additionally, he said, attorneys at Horty Springer can also use the product themselves to save time. 

WESA will be surveying Pennsylvania candidates for federal and state office for the 2022 general election — tell us which issues are most important to you.