Partners HealthCare plans AI rollout to all its clinicians, researchers

Boston-based Partners HealthCare, which includes Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, intends to put artificial intelligence in the “toolbox” of every clinician and researcher.

Led by the MGH & BWH Center for Clinical Data Science, Partners HealthCare plans to provide clinicians and researchers throughout the enterprise with the data, computing capacity and software needed to ensure they can develop their own AI algorithms for use in the clinical environment.

“Currently, focused and siloed pockets of domain expertise in AI reside within specific departments or labs at several large academic medical centers, but making AI an enabling technology across the field of healthcare has been a challenge for many facilities,” said Keith Dreyer, Partners HealthCare’s chief data science officer. “The truth is, you don’t have to be a computer scientist or data scientist to participate in the creation of AI—we are just starting to see increasing availability of tools to enable on-premises development of AI models by clinicians.”

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The initiative, which will be rolled out over 12 months, was announced on Monday at the 2019 World Medical Innovation Forum—hosted in Boston by Partners HealthCare—a three-day conference on AI’s advancements, challenges and opportunities.

“This announcement aligns with national and global trends towards democratization of AI capabilities through increasingly collaborative efforts between academic organizations, technology companies and organizations like the American College of Radiology (ACR) that work to establish standards for the field,” according to Partners HealthCare.

“The trend is punctuated by the recent announcement of a free software platform (AI-LAB) being released by the ACR to enable radiologists to develop, validate and implement AI within their own facilities,” states the announcement.

Also See: NVIDIA, radiology organization team to extend use of AI

“For advances in medicine and technology to truly reach their full potential, there needs to be a shared, fundamental commitment to collaborative innovation that can improve patient lives,” says Partners HealthCare interim president and CEO Anne Klibanski, MD, co-chair of the World Medical Innovation Forum.

During a panel session at Monday’s kickoff of the World Medical Innovation Forum, Partners HealthCare’s Chief Digital Health Officer Alistair Erskine told the audience that AI is a potential solution for the widespread problem of physician burnout—which is caused, in part, by burdensome electronic health record documentation requirements.

Likewise, in five to 10 years, Partners HealthCare’s Chief Clinical Officer Gregg Meyer predicted that before a patient actually visits their doctor, AI will be applied to their electronic health record “sifting through the information and pulling up the most salient points” that need to be addressed, “moving from being reactionary to anticipatory.”

When it comes to actually spending time with patients, Meyer sees the use of voice-recognition and other tools to conduct EHR documentation to “really be there with patients” by focusing on actual care and not administrative tasks.

“We talk now about how dehumanizing the electronic health record has been to healthcare—and we all feel it,” he concluded. “But, I actually think that, in five to 10 years, we might capture the opportunity to use artificial intelligence to re-humanize healthcare.”

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