Today’s Washington Technology Summit (WTS) is focused on the healthcare industry as it experiences a period of great innovation and growth.
One of the driving factors for the drive for innovation in the healthcare sector has come from large health systems, hospital systems and insurers that are investing heavily in solutions that can be implemented within the organization to deliver immediate benefits to patients and the organization itself.
One of the health systems that has been investing in new technologies in the Washington, D.C. metro area is WTS participant Inova Health. Another leader has been the Mayo Clinic, whose Emily Wampfler will be appearing at this year’s WTS.
Mrs. Wampfler recently shared her insights on the impact of technology on healthcare and how it will change the delivery of healthcare in the future. Here is what she had to say:
Ryan Schradin: Many people have heard the Mayo Clinic name but may not know much about its mission and what it does. Can you give our readers a quick introduction to the Mayo Clinic and the work that goes on there?
Emily Wampfler: Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to clinical practice, education and research, providing expert, comprehensive care to everyone who needs healing. Mayo Clinic has major destination campuses in Rochester, Minn.; Scottsdale and Phoenix, Ariz.; and Jacksonville, Fla. The Mayo Clinic Health System has dozens of locations in several states in the Upper Midwest.
Mayo Clinic started in Minnesota more than 150 years ago, and quickly became the place for hope when there is no hope. This reputation lives strongly today, and it is widely acknowledged to be the premier medical institution in the world, treating more than 1.3 million patients each year from more than 140 countries, and all 50 states in the USA.
Mayo Clinic employs 68,000 staff; more than 4,700 are physicians and scientists. We spend over a billion dollars a year in research and education. Mayo Clinic’s mission is to inspire hope and contribute to health and well-being by providing the best care to every patient through integrated clinical practice, education and research. Our primary value is that the needs of the patient come first.
Ryan Schradin: How is the Mayo Clinic helping to invest in and drive Health IT innovation and advancement? What is Mayo Clinic Ventures, and how does it play a role in this?
Emily Wampfler: At Mayo Clinic, researchers, physician-scientists, and technology experts work side by side to transform scientific discoveries into breakthrough therapies and critical advances in patient care. We at Mayo Clinic recognize the critical importance of partnering with the world’s best scientists, companies and institutions to explore and drive the future of medicine in order to share and scale Mayo’s global impact at a much higher level.
Mayo Clinic Ventures, a part of our Department of Business Development, is a mission-driven, global leader in research and technology commercialization, known for its rigorous approach to bringing inventions to the market. It is not a traditional technology transfer office — distinct in that it not only licenses Mayo Clinic’s intellectual property but also forms product development collaborations, actively mines Mayo Clinic for ideas, teaches entrepreneurism, starts companies, runs business accelerators and participates in a $100 million venture and growth fund that supports economic development.
Ryan Schradin: Why is the Mayo Clinic so active in investing in and researching health IT solutions and technologies? Aside from potentially improving patient outcomes, what benefit does the Mayo Clinic receive?
Emily Wampfler: Mayo Clinic is investing in solutions such as artificial intelligence, or augmented human intelligence, as we call it, as a way to democratize the medical expertise of our clinicians and bring more information directly to patients. At the same time, new techniques and abilities gained with artificial intelligence will greatly enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of providers by giving them information more quickly and more accurately.
It is an incredibly exciting time for health care right now, with so many technological and biomedical advances. Leveraging IT solutions and the rise of big data as well as Augmented Human Intelligence can create powerful tools to solve real problems for people who are struggling with complex or difficult health care conditions.
We are excited to contribute to the hope and healing of patients everywhere, some who may never need to come through our doors.
Ryan Schradin: Why is now such a transformational time for the healthcare industry? What is contributing to this wave of innovation we’re seeing in the industry?
Emily Wampfler: Mayo has long understood the need to innovate and make its advancements available broadly. Our integrated, multi-disciplinary system and our people have ensured that Mayo has not only survived but thrived and led medicine throughout the years. Health care is ripe for disruption, with consolidation and technological advancements representing both opportunity and threat. Layer that on with the rise of Big Data, AHI ‘omics’ – coupled with consumerism – and you have a perfect storm for disruption.
Ryan Schradin: What are the health IT solutions and innovations that you anticipate will have the largest scale impact on how we deliver care?
Emily Wampfler: Advances in AI techniques have transformed the field in the last half decade from something that was perennially “a decade away from real use,” into a powerful force that is changing industry after industry. Two of these techniques, Machine Learning (ML) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) are of particular relevance to medicine, and projects using these techniques in medicine are today delivering insights that not only mimic expert human intelligence, but in appropriately targeted applications, outperform it.
This new power of AI—also called “cognitive computing” in medicine is being driven by three important trends: 1) the emergence of large data sets spanning hundreds of thousands to billions of cases 2) affordable access to high performance computing capabilities and 3) new ML, NLP and statistical techniques applied to that big data and computing power.
AI excels in discerning patterns in complex data sets that may not be directly apparent in human analysis, either because the pattern is nuanced and highly multi-factorial, it is buried in a data set too large for any individual human to navigate, or learning the pattern requires intense training and continuous practice not feasible for a practitioner.
The value of AI in medicine comes from its ability to automate time-consuming processes as well as creation of and access to medical insights. In some cases, these are insights that would not otherwise be obtained. Current AI technology is focused on the performance of tasks that require highly tuned, but very specific skills. New applications of AI in medicine include recognition of melanoma-indicative skin lesions, detection of diabetic retinopathy, and prediction of heart attack risk.
Ryan Schradin: How do you see care evolving and changing as a result of new technologies in the future? What will be some of the largest changes that patients will see in the healthcare community and in how they receive care?
Emily Wampfler: Primarily, the technology will help us redefine the delivery models that are still structured around the hospital needs, not the patient needs. We are now able to deliver care faster, and better, and remotely, as a result of innovative technologies.
Telemedicine has been extremely helpful in filling in gaps in rural communities, especially for treating stroke. Now we have mobile devices that can effectively diagnose serious heart conditions. I anticipate that these discoveries will accelerate even more, putting a pressure on everyone to innovate and help bring down the soaring health care costs.
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