AI Advancement in Healthcare members

By Christa Yates, Staff Writer

Subject matter experts discussed the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare during a panel at the Florida Simulation Summit in Orlando, Florida, April 25.


Participants included Steven Latré, Ph.D., vice president of research and development, machine learning, and artificial intelligence at imec; Roger Smith, Ph.D., president of Modelbenders LLC; Ivan Garibay, Ph.D., director of the Complex Adaptive Systems Laboratory; Dr. Deborah German, vice president of University of Central Florida health affairs and dean of the College of Medicine; and Chris Bailey, chief development officer at Twin Cities Orthopedics.


Throughout the conversation, panel members shared insights on AI development and its use in robotic surgery, drug discovery, pandemic preparedness, care delivery and more. According to Latré, AI is the key to unlocking protein sequencing.


“As we know, DNA sequencing has led to a huge breakthrough in understanding our genetic code, and protein sequencing is the next horizon,” Latré said. “We’ve developed a chip called the ‘Nanopore Chip,’ which allows us to get a readout of proteins. The chip essentially has 16,000 small holes that you push proteins through, and it’ll provide a complete readout of those proteins.”


Latré explained that AI is essential for decoding those readouts, with each protein providing a huge amount of data to be processed.


“All of this goes towards personalized and nonintrusive healthcare that should become the future,” Latré said.


According to Bailey, leveraging AI isn’t solely about pushing the envelope of current science but also about cost effectiveness.


“This panel is advancing healthcare, which is incredible, but I think we have a crisis right before our eyes with waste, and we can utilize AI to clean that up almost immediately if we were allowed to do that,” Bailey said. “If we had a task force designated to reduce healthcare waste by 1% or 2% and we invested a few billion in that initiative, we’d probably have a trillion to save on the other end.”


Authorities can also apply AI to other public health concerns, such as pandemic preparedness. With COVID-19 still a recent memory, concerns of another pandemic are genuine, but according to Garibay, health officials have learned a lot about how pandemics spread over the last five years.


“We have about four months to implement early preventative measures, but with COVID-19, it took around 12,” Garibay said.


Mitigation measures like social distancing, closing schools, and staying home had massive economic effects, and Garibay’s suggested solution included personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, gloves and disinfectants. Industry experts are also leveraging AI to develop the next generation of PPE.


“When you look at the data, the probability of new pandemic-level pathogens emerging in the next decade is high, so we need to be aware and responsive to that threat,” Garibay said.


In a world where robotic operations are increasingly common, AI can also assist in operations. Smith said there are “about a dozen” FDA-approved robots used in surgery, and over 100 companies are secretly developing robots they intend to market.


“If you walk into a hospital needing a prostatectomy or hysterectomy, your surgeon is very likely to recommend a robotic procedure for you,” Smith said. “We’ve been looking at how to improve these robots in advising and guiding surgeons for several years. So as a surgeon looks through a camera to operate, the surgeon could be assisted by an AI that has the data from thousands of past surgeries, pointing out the best path to take.”


These applications extend beyond the surgical suite and into the classroom, where Smith estimated a ratio of one instructor for every five to 10 students. This ratio gives each student 10% to 20% of the instructor’s attention. Each student could receive more personal guidance and monitoring if classrooms had AI assistance.


Professionals are leveraging AI across healthcare, from surgeries to protein sequencing, and will continue to develop its use throughout the field. As it becomes more commonplace and more use cases develop, AI holds the potential to revolutionize healthcare delivery, improve patient outcomes, and enhance overall efficiency within the industry. With careful implementation and ongoing innovation, AI stands poised to reshape the future of healthcare, offering new possibilities for diagnosis, treatment, and personalized care.

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