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From the Driver’s Seat – What is “AI” in Health Care and What is in Store?

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Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 10.56.04 PM[Left, Richit Sihnha, Partner, AV8 Ventures. Right, Glen Tullman Executive Chairman,  Livongo. http://bit.ly/DigtalHealthAI]

Keeping a sharp eye on artificial intelligence will be critical to understanding the future of medicine. 

However, artificial Intelligence (AI)  is often poorly understood, even by business leaders, and yet many consider it part of every aspect of digital health, if not health care overall. What is AI and what are examples of developments that will help us anticipate the future of health care?

According to the Brookings Institute, AI is often poorly understood, even by business leaders. Ai is the use of algorithms that are designed to make decisions, often using real-time data. What makes Artificial Intelligence different from simple programming, is that AI systems are able to handle complex structures like the human body because they learn over time, and become accustomed to increasingly complex sets of input. There is not just one action for every input, but the actions are adjusted by a myriad of factors, and the way the system adjusts is affected by what it learns over time as well.

During the recent 2020 Digital Health Awards, “New Application of AI” was one of about one dozen award categories. However, it seems that AI will soon be an aspect of all elements of digital health, and health care in general, for that matter. According to Richit Sihnha, Partner, AV8 Ventures, “AI will be as transformative to the healthcare industry as sequencing was for the diagnostics and therapeutics industry.” She believes that, some day, “AI will be core to everything we build in health care.”

Glen Tullman Executive Chairman,  Livongo, a company that uses convenient monitoring devices, call/text centers and computer algorithms to personalize diabetes care, described AI in terms its effect on peoples’ lives rather than on the technology itself.  Tullmann talked about people and magic, referencing a quote by science writer Arthur C. Clark, who said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’” Tullman underscored this point, adding, “We can use technology …and data science to create magical experiences, and we can really make it easier for people to stay healthy. That’s why this excites me!” In July 2019, Livongo went public, and September 2020, announced an $18.5B merger with Teledoc, the largest digital health deal in history. Going forward,  the company anticipates further developments in its vision to deliver life-changing services.

Chris Manzi, MD, Co-founder and CEO at Viz.ai, with audiences the role of AI in saving those who have had a stroke. Time is critical to patient outcomes in stroke care. AI in radiology can be used to reduce treatment time by automating radiology reads to diagnosis a stroke before a human has read the scan. During the CT exam, when the patient is first being imaged (the first step of the process) if the algorithm indicates a possible stroke, the entire care team, from the radiologists and neurologist quickly come together to verify the AI diagnosis and the surgical plan. In the past, each specialist would see the patient sequentially, a 2-hour process. By working in unison once alerted, the total time to treatment is less than one hour after the CT scan.  Thanks to the impact of Viz.Ai in treating stroke patients, they received the first clearance for the application of AI in healthcare by the FDA. Further, in September 2020, they became the first AI software to receive a Medicare New Technology Add-on Payment so that hospitals would be reimbursed for this care, and enabling hospitals adopt advanced technology to improve stroke care. 

For leaders in health care, and those who consume health care, including employers and consumers, staying abreast of this rapidly evolving field will help us evaluate options and manage change in an effective manner. As I look at the marketplace, I will be sorting for those organizations who use their technical capabilities to solve the problems that are most relevant to their customers and those who clearly describe their value proposition. Speaking in ROI terms will be critical to ensuring we can compare one solution to another.

The five companies selected in this manner by a panel of 250 judges at the UCSF Digital Health awards for the “New Applications of AI” include those listed below. Each is worthy of a website visit and a conversation with colleagues to learn more about their technology and the quantitative and qualitative value they offer their customers – both health care professionals and consumers alike.

  1. Livongo – Personalizing diabetes care (UCSF Digital Health AI Award-winner 2019)
  2. Viz.Ai – Accelerating stroke care by automating the analysis of stroke care (UCSF Digital Health Award-winner 2020)
  3. Suki Health – 100% accurate voice dictation to liberate physicians from note-taking
  4. Gauss Surgical – Powering surgical and maternal safety with A.I.
  5. Karius – Blood test based on next-generation sequencing of microbial cell-free DN.

For more information on the the “New Application of AI” category, scroll to minute 17:11  here: bit.ly/DigtalHealthAI   


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