HIMSS 2017

It was all about Artificial Intelligence, Going to the cloud and Precision Medicine

Jennifer Dransfeldt | March 2, 2017

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Nearly half of all physicians in the United States are experiencing burnout. In the opening remarks of HIMSS 2017, the call was loud and clear to “restore the joy of practice”. To answer that call, Health IT has an opportunity to improve clinical outcomes, increase time with patients and expand access to healthcare. Trends we see leading the way? Artificial Intelligence, cloud based technologies and precision medicine.

Artificial Intelligence is here

Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM, focused this year’s keynote on the promise of Artificial Intelligence (AI). According to Rometty, AI is mainstream and real. By the end of the year 1 Billion people will be “touched” by IBM Watson Health. AI has the opportunity to assist clinicians to be more efficient and effective.

The technology is not expected to displace physicians. AI will assist them in alleviating provider shortages, improving care and reducing costs. One example in India, 2,000 oncologists must care for 10M patients. AI can help prioritize the most critical medical images for review, reducing diagnosis time from 20 minutes to 20 seconds and identifying opportunities for personalized care.

To be successful, Artificial Intelligence will require that the industry use a range of open platforms and technologies that can connect with other data sources. Additionally, those that deploy the Artificial Intelligence solutions need to be domain experts. They must be transparent in who trained it, what is the data used and why it came to the insights it did.

Healthcare and the Cloud

The idea of going to the cloud can still be scary to CIOs in Healthcare. In the HIMSS 2016 Cloud Survey results, top concerns included: support, expense, migration, compliance and adherence to regulatory requirements, performance and security. Despite those objections, currently 84% reported using cloud services.

Deanna Wise, CIO of Dignity Health, spoke in a session about their journey to the cloud. Her advice was to start small with providers and build trust. If you are sharing and acquiring external data, it is critical to use a neutral location for sharing across different organizations and sources. The outcomes are worth the efforts as you start to bring on machine learning and predictive analytics. In their work with Sepsis, Dignity health saw an average mortality rate for sepsis patients decrease by “7.25%, average severe sepsis rate decrease by 14.9% and Physician response time with sepsis bundle orders was reduced by 51%”, all leading to improved outcomes and lower cost.

Genomic data to the point of care

Bridging the gap between genetic results and clinical workflow remains a challenge. Clinicians are pressed for time and current workflows don’t accommodate genomic information. Geneticists struggle to bring the right level of data and insights to the clinicians. Personalized medicine may feel a few years out, but diagnostic sequencing is now done for things like cancer and neonatal issues.

Reimbursement is still cited as a barrier to utilizing genetic sequencing. But with better understanding of the role genetic variants can play in metabolizing common medications, combined with increasing cost of medication, the upfront costs of sequencing can be much lower than prolonged course of treatment that will prove ineffective. As we move closer to an era of personalized medicine, clinical trials continue to focus on genetic biomarkers to help find larger pools of related diseases where the specific drug may help larger impacted populations. Meanwhile, consumers are starting to understand and inquire about personalized medicine.

Researchers and providers are transforming healthcare and will usher in a new way of treating and curing disease. Artificial Intelligence, cloud based computing and precision medicine are at the forefront of what is possible today and what will be tomorrow.