For those of us working in healthcare these are exciting times. While no one has yet come close to creating a viable medical Tricorder, let alone a workable flying car, healthcare technology has made advances that put the medical field squarely in the “future.” As we approach the 20th anniversary of The Human Genome Project we have to marvel at the fact that at the outset, to sequence one human genome, it cost more than $1 billion dollars and took 13 years to complete. Today, it takes one to two days and costs just $3,000 to $5,000 to perform that task.
Not only is sequencing the human genome really incredible science, but it’s also a game changer when it comes to finding treatments for critical illnesses, extending life, and even eradicating fatal conditions entirely. Equally, in my former field of medical imaging informatics, the advances being made not only in image quality, but also in using artificial intelligence (AI) to improve image segmentation, classification, and overall diagnosis, still sometimes feel like science fiction, rather than our new normal.
Undoubtedly there’s a lot of medical science at the heart of these developments, but there are other components driving healthcare organizations forward. I’m talking about data, the ability to manage data, and the capability to put it to work using sophisticated data management infrastructure. Without petabytes of data to put to work training algorithms, AI-based advances would not be possible. But without the ability to store, move, process, analyze, and apply that data in milliseconds- whether in a data center or in the cloud – we wouldn’t have been able to begin the journeys that have led to these amazing discoveries.
We went to the frontlines of this next-generation healthcare to find out how some of the country’s leading healthcare providers are leveraging data-driven technologies to radically improve patient care, improve health outcomes, and improve population health. The pioneering work of the individuals and organizations are just some of the daily innovations occurring in healthcare systems across the country. From the experiences shared by Duleep Wikramanayake, Chief Information Officer for SimonMed Imaging, about how his organization built a future-ready data management infrastructure that’s already enhancing medical imaging capabilities, to Dr. Stephanie Lahr’s experiences using data-driven technology to improve the quality of healthcare for Americans living in rural community via telemedicine, the stories are both visionary and very practical.
That practical insight shared by all the healthcare experts we talked with are just as important, if not more so, than the futuristic vision. Technologies like AI and cloud have all, in their time, been subjected to the hype cycle. While cloud storage, for example, has survived the hype cycle and healthcare organizations have developed proven use cases and best practices, AI is just at the beginning. In showcasing use cases we can stop equating AI with frightening images of job-stealing robots and channel the conversation towards how AI helps speed time to diagnosis, combats physician burnout, and will help contain the costs of healthcare by reducing waste, fraud and abuse.
What I hope you take away from these stories is a not only a sense of admiration for the healthcare professionals, the organizations they work for, and their vision, but also the knowledge that the pioneering work they’ve done is possible. And, when I say possible, I mean possible not just for large well-funded systems, but for all healthcare organizations – and not just in the future, but today.
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