Intermountain launches new AI center to guide ethical implementations and prevent care disparities

Intermountain Healthcare announced this week the formation of its new Data Science and Artificial Intelligence Center of Excellence. The goal? To establish a basic guarantee of ethical standards as AI and machine learning algorithms spread across healthcare.

The new center of expertise calls in experts from all over Intermountain and beyond and draws on their various areas of expertise – data analysis, applied mathematics and statistics, computer science, behavioral science, econometrics, computer linguistics and clinical informatics – as well as clinicians from several different specialties.

As algorithms are increasingly integrated into care services in the United States – Intermountain notes that there are more than 130 and more that have been FDA approved or approved, designed to improve the detection and treatment of breast cancer, sickle cell disease, schizophrenia and more – Purpose, say officials are setting up some guidelines that could help its two dozen hospitals and 225 clinics detect algorithmic biases, combat care disparities and help ensure “responsible and ethical AI” while protecting the patient experience.

“We have developed an AI Playbook as a framework for implementing and scaling human-centered AI that is transparent, fair, ethical and above all ensures patient privacy,” said Greg Nelson, Assistant Vice President of Analysis Services at Intermountain.

“The playbook outlines goals for establishing appropriate AI management, setting validation and documentation standards, detecting inherent bias, ensuring data integrity, and promoting AI competence among relatives.”

Intermountain has a long history of technological innovations, of course, dating back to an early electronic medical record system in the 1950s and computer-assisted clinical decision support from the 1970s.

Recently, AI-enabled projects in the Salt Lake City-based healthcare system have included an e-pneumonia protocol that has saved more than 1,100 lives a year since 2015, officials note – as well as a machine learning program that can identify inpatients who are in risk of decline.

Intermountain also uses algorithms to “identify diseases and infections in their early stages (including COVID-19) and prevent hospital readmissions,” said Albert Marinez, its chief analyst.

Currently, all data products implemented at Intermountain follow a validation process based on guidelines based on US and international best practices, according to the healthcare system, with “concepts derived from the FDA’s definition of validation.” They require “verification and documentation to meet predetermined specifications and quality characteristics.”

The goal of the new center of excellence is to expand and fine-tune policies around artificial intelligence and machine learning, to improve how they are used to inform nursing services, officials say.

“The work of this new Center of Excellence – which brings together the right algorithms and data at the right time – enables our relatives to take care of people with the best evidence and decision support at the moment,” said Dr. Mark Briesacher, chef. Medical Director of Intermountain, in a statement. “People expect and deserve the best experience and care in every moment with their healthcare providers.”

At the upcoming HIMSS Machine Learning & AI for Healthcare virtual event scheduled for the 14th-15th. December, a series of sessions will examine how algorithms can be implemented more securely, efficiently, and fairly.

And experts from across the health care system – and outside the health care system – will discuss some of the major policy decisions to be made in the coming years by federal agencies and private companies as AI becomes more and more ubiquitous.

Responsible AI applications automate routine tasks and create time for providers and caregivers to listen, see and feel what patients share and need. AI presents providers with data-driven insights and suggested next actions for evidence-based care plans, treatments and interventions for patients , “said Dr. Diego Ize-Ludlow, Intermountains Chief of Health Information Officer, in a statement.

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