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AI and Public Health: Industry Experts, Including HHS’s Kristen Honey, Discuss Impact

by Editorial Team

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on GovDataDownload and discusses the impact of innovative technology, including artificial intelligence (AI), on public health. Additionally, it leverages insight from industry expert, Kim Garriott, Chief Innovation Officer, Healthcare at NetApp, on AI’s ability to save lives yet simultaneously lessen the human element of public health. Garriott also discusses COVID-19’s impact on accelerated AI adoption and the future of public health initiatives.  

There is a lot to unpack in the way of healthcare and public health over the course of 2020. COVID-19 has pushed the public sector to apply new best practices and assess lessons learned at a level they couldn’t have predicted this year. Innovative technology like AI is, of course, a crucial part of that equation. Time and resources are some of the most valuable commodities in public health and maximizing them are imperative when faced with a challenge the size of a global pandemic.

But where do we draw the line between technology that can contribute greatly to saving lives and technology that’s removing the human element of public health and affecting human connection? In a recent webinar titled “The Human Dimension of AI – A Public Health Perspective During a Pandemic,” public health and technology experts explored this question, digging into how crucial human connection is to quality healthcare and how it’s become all but inaccessible during the pandemic.

To learn more about the layers of this conversation, we spoke with Kim Garriott, Chief Innovation Officer, Healthcare at NetApp, and moderator for the webinar. “COVID-19 has greatly amplified various challenges across the public health arena that are driving more robust AI adoption,” she stated in an interview with GovDataDownload. “We want to explore what that means in a time when both AI and human interaction are both necessary in the effective treatment of patients.”

Some of the key themes Garriott teased in our discussion included challenges around data integrity and how that impacts AI efforts, the importance of data diversity and how that can directly affect public health, and how AI contributes to caring for the human dimension.

According to Garriott, we need to demystify AI to understand its beneficial relationship to the human dimension. “In the healthcare world, AI doesn’t stand for ‘artificial intelligence.’ It stands for ‘augmented intelligence,’ and it has for a long time now,” she explained. “And it does just that. When applied correctly, it augments, among other things, processing capabilities.” A few examples Garriott shared are the augmentation of treatment planning by providing precision medicine insights, the ability to detect cancers early by scanning images for suspicious nodules, and the optimization of triaging efforts so we can care for the sickest patients first.

“Patient care can be improved drastically through the adoption of AI,” Garriott emphasized. She also noted that the concept of early detection and prevention with the help of AI builds towards the “Better Outcomes” dimension of the Quadruple Aim.

Other experts featured in the discussion include Kristen Honey, Ph.D., Executive Director of Innovation & Partnerships at the Department of Health and Human Services, Esteban Rubens, Healthcare AI Principal at NetApp, and Christopher Ginder, Regional Director, Civilian Agencies, U.S. Public Sector at NetApp.

To learn more about the complex and evolving relationship around AI and public health, you can register to watch the full discussion on-demand here.

This article was first published on GovDataDownload on November 17, 2020. To read the original article, click here.

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