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Tom Sullivan

AI can be applied right now to ever-expanding health data sets. When will be the best time for healthcare entities to implement? 

 

Leading enterprise IT companies — Amazon, Apple, IBM, Google, Microsoft — are investing heavily in artificial intelligence, cognitive computing and machine learning. And even though many healthcare providers are still in wait-and-see mode when it comes to these emerging technologies, there are tangible reasons to consider deploying them sooner rather than later.

 

AI can be applied today to clinical decision support, length of stay predictions, OR scheduling, natural language processing such as virtual assistants, robotics for materials transport, research data mining and analytics, as well as pattern classification for tasks such as tumor detection, according to Kenneth Kleinberg, managing director of research at the Advisory Board.

 

“Machine learning works best when there is lots of data; humans have the most challenges when there is too much data,” Kleinberg explained. “As EHRs, health information exchanges, registries, genomics information, patient generated health data, the Internet of Things and other sources are tapped, the need for machine learning will only grow to help clinicians make more informed, complex, and timely decisions.” 

That said, there are limitations that hospital executives and IT professionals should keep in mind. AI systems are only as good as the quality of data they are fed. And because they require statistical, symbolic and bio-inspired approaches, Kleinberg recommended that humans still account for their own experience and common sense instead of blindly following any AI systems recommendations.

Hospital systems holding off for the time being on AI, cognitive computing and machine learning implementation might be missing the opportunity to help shape the technological advancements that Apple, IBM, Google, Microsoft and others are developing.

“You'll know you need to apply these technologies when your colleagues using them have better outcomes,” Kleinberg said.

Kleinberg is scheduled to present at HIMSS17 during the session, “Artificial Intelligence and the future of healthcare,” on Feb. 19, 2017, at 3:15 – 4:15 PM EST in room 304E. 

HIMSS17 runs from Feb. 19-23, 2017 at the Orange County Convention Center.