May 11, 2018

When AI Meets Healthcare

Medtronic leaders — past and present — discuss the role of artificial intelligence in the future of value-based, patient-centered care.

May 11, 2018 — Industry leaders gathered at Stanford University recently for The LIGHT Forum: Leaders In Global Healthcare and Technology. The two-day conference took an in depth look at the changing landscape of healthcare. Medtronic Chairman and CEO Omar Ishrak joined a panel discussion on artificial intelligence (AI) and the role it plays in the future of healthcare.

AI and Value-based Healthcare

The shift from pay-for-service models to outcomes-based models intersects directly with advances in technology, like AI, according to Ishrak. “Technology and outcomes need to be linked correctly, and we need a comprehensive, collaborative effort to do this.” When done right, Ishrak explains, data and measured outcomes will help drive value and accountability across the system. “When it comes to interoperability, standardization and access to longitudinal data, there’s certainly room for improvement; but we have enough to get started.”  

Data and the Delivery of Personalized Medicine

Former Medtronic CEO Bill George was also part of the panel and spoke to the potential for what data-driven, personalized medicine can do for patients. Targeted therapy in cancer patients, for example, holds great promise compared to treatment options of today. Chemotherapy, he explained, is a standard treatment regimen that is quite often ineffective. “We have to be able to target the right therapy for an individual patient,” explained George. Using data to do this – not just from health records, but behavioral data from a person’s day to day life –  is where personalized medicine becomes a reality.  According to George, “For this model, chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease might be the best place to start.”

A Powerful Tool for Physicians   

While advances in data technology may help healthcare providers, Ishrak says it’s highly unlikely that AI will replace a physician all together in the foreseeable future. “There’s no doubt that data analytics will continue to increase and evolve over time,” he says. “But today, the biggest opportunity we have is to give physicians both clinical and behavioral data to work with. The combination of those two will help providers make informed decisions and more effectively treat patients.” 

Machine Learning and Robotics

When asked about the role of machine learning and robotics, Ishrak said robotics will undoubtedly help advance the use and effectiveness of minimally invasive surgical procedures. “Robotics could help standardize outcomes by reducing variability,” he said. “Many forms of data – from image recognition to real time data –will certainly aid in improving these kinds of procedures.” 

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