ONC: Frustrations with legacy systems, rise of Alexa giving healthcare AI a boost

Advisory group says acceptance in clinical practice, the ability to leverage personal devices and the availability of quality data are still challenges.
By Tom Sullivan
02:49 PM
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Artificial intelligence has been hyped as much, if not more, than just about any other major technological advancement in recent history — and that is at least as true in healthcare today as it is elsewhere.

But is this time different for AI or will the hype fade away again in the near future?

“The use of artificial intelligence in health and healthcare is promising – and doable,” officials wrote on ONC’s HealthITBuzz blog. 

That’s the conclusion to come out of a new report posted by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT in conjunction with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that was conducted by the independent advisory group of academics and scientists known as JASON.  

[Also: HIMSS18 Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for Healthcare event: Moving AI out of the dark]

“Unlike previous eras of excitement over AI, the potential of AI applications in health and healthcare may make this era different because the confluence of the following three forces has primed our society to embrace new health-centric approaches that may be enabled by advances in AI: 1) frustration with the legacy medical system, 2) ubiquity of networked smart devices in our society, 3) acclimation to convenience and at-home services like those provided through Amazon and others,” according to the report.

AI faces a number of challenges particular to healthcare, of course. JASON listed the most common as acceptance in clinical practice, the ability to leverage personal devices, availability of quality data, and broadly understanding the technology’s limitations.

To that extent, JASON also provided several recommendations to ONC, AHRQ and RWJF including: support work to prepare AI apps for clinical practice, build testing and validation for algorithms, develop infrastructure to integrate data with smart devices and AI tools, ensure privacy and transparency, incentivize health data sharing, craft strategies to fill important data gaps, and create public forums to share data in ways that engage scientists “in finding new discoveries that will benefit health.”

“These efforts will improve capabilities to exchange and appropriately use high-quality health data – critical elements in powering AI efforts in health and healthcare,” the authors wrote on ONC’s blog. 

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Twitter: SullyHIT
Email the writer: tom.sullivan@himssmedia.com