Med School Dean: AI is about making humans better

Total Information AM goes in-depth with Philip Payne, Associate Dean and Chief Data Scientist for the Washington University School of Medicine

We hear a lot of doomsday scenarios about artificial intelligence and the damage the technology could do to our society.

But what if AI could transform one of our major -- and most necessary institutions -- health care??? We explored the possibilities on Total Information AM with Philip Payne, Associate Dean and Chief Data Scientist for the Washington University School of Medicine.

Payne says artificial intelligence holds great promise for transforming our health systems and medical research, "And the real benefit of AI is that it allows us to filter and sort and understand all that data so that humans in the health care system can really identify the data that's most important to make the decision that's in front of them right now. And I have to remind people of that, that AI in medicine or in health care more broadly is not about replacing humans, it's about making humans better."

Payne says one of the ways utilizing AI application in health care could make humans better, is by predicting patient outcomes.

"We have a lot of work that's been underway at Washington University and we see this nationally and internationally that is very focused on predicting patient trajectories," adds Payne. One example is the use of artificial intelligence to detect patterns that lead to the development of sepsis in hospitalized patients.

"This is a condition that has a relatively high mortality rate compared to others that people might develop in the hospital. And unfortunately, today, we often detect sepsis too late to intervene effectively and prevent things like an ICU admission or a more complex course of treatment, " points out Payne. But with algorithms they run in electronic health records, he says they can identity patients most at risk of developing sepsis in the 8 - 12 hours. "And the accuracy of those algorithms is over 80%."

Are there risks of using AI in the setting of large health care system?

"I think on one hand, the use of AI gives us another tool to make sure that we're identifying potential vulnerabilities and doing everything we can to secure really important data in the health care enterprise," says Payne. He says it will require constant attention and technology innovation. "I think we have to be very diligent and not just accept the technologies as being, you know, sort of additive to the current environment, but recognize that they introduce both new capabilities and new risks and balance those two things."

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