Cardinal Health CIO Michelle Greene, Elevance Health Chief Data and Analytics Officer Ashok Chennuru, National Institutes of Health Clinical Center Chief Health Information Officer Tricia Coffey, and Manatt Health Senior Adviser Cynthia Bero discuss the future of artificial intelligence in healthcare.

Apr 04 2023

ViVE 2023: Health IT Leaders Must Work with a Sense of Urgency on AI

Event speakers addressed potential use cases for artificial intelligence in healthcare amid the growing popularity of generative AI tools such as ChatGPT.

Afraid, intriguing, harnessable and revolutionary were some of the words health IT leaders used to describe their thoughts on ChatGPT during the session “AI Strategies Getting into Formation” at ViVE 2023 in Nashville, Tenn. The generative artificial intelligence chatbot brought the conversation about AI to the forefront throughout the conference.

AI is no longer a technology of the future but a fast-approaching reality in healthcare. At ViVE, technology leaders discussed the potential for AI in healthcare and how organizations can successfully implement AI solutions.

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AI Drives Operational, Clinical and Research Efficiency in Healthcare

While ChatGPT has healthcare IT leaders excited, they are also cautious. Michelle Greene, executive vice president and CIO of Cardinal Health, said the tool needs governance around it. However, AI is not new in healthcare and has been used in other ways for years.

Tricia Coffey, chief health information officer for the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, said the center has seen great benefits from using AI. It has automated processes around data capture and input so researchers can spend more time on data analysis and clinicians can spend more time with patients.

“The beauty of AI is that it keeps getting better as you train it,” said Ashok Chennuru, chief data and analytics officer at Elevance Health, which used AI to clean up its provider directory data based on location and conditions to provide better access to care. “If you do it right, it changes how consumers get care.”

He emphasized the need to operationalize and learn from data models rather than continuing to build new ones.

Greene said Cardinal Health uses AI for its supply chain to ensure carriers have the right information to get supplies to patients more quickly and accurately.

Today, AI is often used in healthcare to automate repeatable tasks related to documentation or data collection. Natural language processing tools can use AI to transcribe conversations between clinicians and patients, then pull out key information to add to the electronic health record. This saves physicians time and can make documentation more accurate and complete.

MORE FROM ViVE: How to create digital transformation and innovation in healthcare.

How to Balance AI Implementation with Staff Concerns

Despite the benefits of AI, some clinicians and healthcare staff may be worried that AI will eliminate jobs. Coffey said IT leaders need to reframe the conversation.

“AI can lead to more efficiency, but it won’t necessarily save a lot of cost or replace people,” she said. “Rather, it frees up time and adds to the work quality and work-life balance.”

AI can also be seen as an upscaling opportunity and as part of the continuous evolution of healthcare. Chennuru said the industry should look at AI as an efficiency play amid staff shortages. He emphasized the importance of learning and asking more questions, which can be supported by AI.

Greene recommended starting the implementation process with a conversation.

“Engage your team about tasks they’re doing that they wish were off their plates. It frames the conversation differently,” she said. “They’re part of the decision about different ways to handle repeated tasks.”

Most importantly, Greene said health IT leaders need to communicate the “why” behind AI.

“Anytime we do something with AI, we have to think about the why. The why helps translate for your teams,” she said.

“As leaders, we have to frame it in the right way for our staff to help them understand that they’re still an important piece of the puzzle,” Coffey added.

Tricia Coffey
AI can lead to more efficiency, but it won’t necessarily save a lot of cost or replace people. Rather, it frees up time and adds to the work quality and work-life balance.”

Tricia Coffey Chief Health Information Officer, National Institutes of Health Clinical Center

Eliminating Bias from Healthcare Data and AI

Uncovering and eliminating unconscious bias in healthcare is a constant effort that must be extended to data and AI models. Bias can affect the type of data collected and its usage. As more AI tools continue to be implemented in healthcare, Chennuru said, transparency is key to handling unconscious bias.

Coffey explained that organizations have a responsibility to include diversity in their teams and their data capturing.

“We have diverse populations and see patients all over the world. We have great resources to train these engines,” she said. “I don’t know if it will completely go away, but we need to do our best.”

Greene pointed out that real conversations are needed to uncover unconscious bias and change how it impacts data.

EXPLORE: How AI-driven clinical care guidelines can improve patient outcomes.

Future AI Use Cases in Healthcare

Cynthia Bero, senior adviser for Manatt Health, moderated the panel. She asked ChatGPT about future use cases for AI in healthcare. It highlighted four use cases: medical image analysis, personalized medicine, drug development and remote patient monitoring.

“Those use cases are great examples,” Chennuru said. “It will be interesting to see what ChatGPT says a year from now.”

He said he is excited about AI’s potential for capturing information from multiple sources to come up with the right treatment patterns and find early indicators to prevent disease.

“Knowing those insights or early indicators will give physicians time to work with patients to drive meaningful change,” he said.

Coffey agreed that AI will ensure physicians have access to clinical decision support and will help drive clinical research.

As new AI solutions and opportunities arise in healthcare, Greene said, IT leaders will have to work with a sense of speed and urgency.

Keep this page bookmarked for our ongoing coverage of ViVE 2023. Follow us on Twitter at @HealthTechMag and join the conversation at #ViVE2023.

Photography by Jordan Scott
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