“Moon shots are made to be landed.”
Ginni Rometti, chairman, president and CEO of IBM
These are exciting times across the healthcare spectrum. And nowhere was this excitement more palpable than at the HIMSS Conference, where more than 40,000 healthcare IT professionals from around the world gathered in Orlando, FL, to discuss the future of healthcare.
Ginni Rometty, the chairman, president and CEO of IBM and the first woman to head the company, opened the conference with a rousing keynote that not only drew parallels to the new frontier that was the American space program, but also to the new frontier ahead of us: Artificial intelligence (AI.)
AI is a huge buzzword in the healthcare industry, as well as other technology industries. IBM has been at the forefront of artificial intelligence with the creation of Watson, the cognitive computer developed in 2011 by a research team to answer questions on “Jeopardy.” Since the first Watson, IBM has created versions across industries: from commerce and financial services to education, IoT and healthcare. All with the goal of tapping artificial intelligence to solve the world’s toughest challenges.
AI in healthcare has huge implications for the future of disease eradication, drug discovery and genomics. But, it isn’t all cold and impersonal. AI can personalize care, keeping patients engaged in their own health journey and caregivers empowered to create better treatment plans. In fact, according to Rometty, Watson aligned 100 percent with physician diagnoses but also found 30 percent more actionable items than doctors found. She also noted that physicians’ number one complaint and cause for burnout was paperwork and administrative tasks. Instead of spending time with patients, physicians are filling out paperwork, looking for records, sending records between providers and agencies. But imagine using cognition to manage and secure the creation and exchange of electronic health records.
That gives practitioners the ability to do what they do best: personalized patient care. While humans, i.e. practitioners, will remain the face of healthcare, cognitive intelligence will become the backbone.
AI will also be responsible for the secure exchange of data. After all, data security is a big data and analytics problem. Companies assume they have the necessary precautions and safeguards in place. But in fact, healthcare is the number one industry targeted by cyber thieves. There were more than 250 reported cases of potential data breaches last year alone. As Rometty described it, analogous to the foundation of the CDC to prevent the spread of disease, AI is the guard at the gate for EHR cybersecurity.
This brave new frontier harkens back to America’s race to space. IBM was there. If you’ve seen the recent movie “Hidden Figures,” you know that IBM provided computers for the Apollo missions and the guidance system for the Saturn V rocket that propelled us to the moon. Hence Rometty’s quote about landing moon shots. You have to shoot high and then be successful.
As she noted, this is a golden era for personalized and precision medicine. All companies, including IBM and Konica Minolta, must have amazing, inspiring technological dreams. Rometty reminds us that it is our responsibility to guide that technology in an ethical, enduring way to create the healthcare solutions of the future.
Even as we shoot for the moon.