Artificial intelligence has been around for 50 years, says Leonard D’Avolio, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and founder and CEO of Cyft, a company that uses the technology to help to improve patient population outcomes.

“In machine learning, thousands of studies have helped us find patterns in data, and most of them are clinical in nature,” D’Avolio says of the work Cyst does. The ability to automate the math is new, however. It enables “anyone who can write code” to find patterns of interest.

“Despite its name, there’s nothing artificial or intelligent about this stuff; it’s software,” he says. “That makes it seem more approachable. If we use this as a robotic doctor replacement, this makes it harder for doctors and investors to figure out how to use this.”

Leonard D’Avolio
Leonard D’Avolio

Cyft is using AI to help Medicaid populations, especially those with mental illnesses. The company is fighting the “one-size-fits-all” approach to mental health and focuses on which patients are most likely to need inpatient care within the next 90 days so they can be targeted for preventative care.

“Medicaid is where you’re going to see the most innovative solutions powered by AI,” because Medicaid beneficiaries tend to be some of the sickest, they are seen most often by healthcare providers and that drives more data for machine learning, D’Avolio says. “There are organizations like the one that I have formed that are getting paid to use these technologies to make people healthy. But it’s not being solved by AI; that’s just part of the solution. Those of us using these technologies are doing so because it’s the right technology for the job.”

D’Avolio says AI is getting more attention in healthcare because of the relatively recent influx of funding for value-based reimbursement models. In addition, the hardware and software have advanced, so that more people have access to AI. “They’re teaching middle school kids how to use AI,” he says. “That has helped people realize there’s an opportunity here.”

D’Avolio will be a panelist in a session on AI at the Future of Healthcare Event being held May 6 to 9 in Las Vegas. He will be joined on the panel by Fabien Beckers, CEO and co-founder of Arterys, a medical imaging cloud AI. provider. Radiology is at the forefront of AI usage in healthcare because imaging is highly structured and standardized. It’s easier to analyze the data, he says.

The cloud and AI will enable patients, no matter where they live, to receive higher quality diagnoses. Beckers sees AI as a way to “democratize and equalize” healthcare in the world.

A third panelist, Sangeeta Chakraborty, chief customer officer at Ayasdi, a company that designs and deploys AI for enterprises across the financial, healthcare and public sectors, will also be in the session. “Healthcare has been slow to the party,” she says. But, they are showing up now, because healthcare organizations are starting to scratch their heads, wondering why they aren’t getting better outcomes.

“We find that a lot of the [healthcare] industry is continuously using the same approaches, but hoping for better results,” she says. “That’s why they are starting to turn to AI. They have to look at it differently.”

D’Avolio, Beckers and Chakraborty will be panelists at the Future of Healthcare Event, in the session titled “A.I. on the Front Lines,” held May 7 from 3:40 to 4:20 p.m.

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