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Microsoft, hospitals hope TRAIN will keep AI in healthcare on track | HIMSS 2024

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More than a dozen health systems are teaming with Microsoft in a new initiative to ensure the responsible use of AI in healthcare. Jennifer Stoll of Ochin talks about the effort.

Orlando, Florida – Healthcare leaders are talking about the potential of AI in healthcare and the need to develop it responsibly.

This week, Microsoft announced a new initiative to ensure the responsible development of AI in healthcare at the HIMSS Global Health Conference & Exhibition. The tech giant is teaming up with more than a dozen of America’s largest hospitals to form the Trustworthy & Responsible AI Network, also dubbed TRAIN.

And yes, the goal is to make sure AI in healthcare stays on track and doesn’t go off the rails.

OCHIN, a nonprofit group that provides data and technology insights to community health organizations, is also participating in the initiative. OCHIN supports over 300 healthcare entities, including Federally Qualified Health Centers, rural hospitals, and public health departments.

Jennifer Stoll, the chief external affairs officer of OCHIN, said the group is on board with TRAIN to ensure that as AI gains more prevalence in healthcare, underserved communities aren’t left behind.

“We are concerned that if we are not driving health equity in AI, and leading in that space, we will get run over by it, honestly,” Stoll told Chief Healthcare Executive®.

OCHIN shares good practices in technology with community health organizations, and she sees similar potential with the TRAIN effort.

“We think that this is where TRAIN can go, in terms of opportunities with AI,” Stoll said. “Our members will not be able to afford a lot of these models. They do not have the people to stand them up. They do not have governance structures to be able to do it. They are really struggling. … And so they need to have that shared experience.”

OCHIN brings an ability to look at data from very diverse patient populations, from small hospitals in rural communities to providers in cities. Stoll hopes to see others joining TRAIN that are focused on closing disparities in care among disadvantaged communities.

“We believe that we need more equitable voices coming forward, more datasets like OCHIN, to be part of TRAIN, to really ensure that we are taking bias out of algorithms, that we are being thoughtful about how we deploy these, understanding whether it works in unique patient populations,” Stoll said.

Healthcare leaders at HIMSS need little prompting to express their excitement for AI. In a keynote address at HIMSS Tuesday, Robert Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health, said AI has the potential to improve the health of billions worldwide. But Garrett and others at HIMSS have also discussed the need to ensure AI’s potential benefits reach everyone.

Healthcare leaders have worried about AI learning from data that’s incorrect and reflects bias against minority groups. Researchers with the Stanford School of Medicine studied chatbot answers and found some reflected racial bias, according to a study published in Digital Medicine last October.

OCHIN is concerned about the prospect of AI tools perpetuating bias.

“All of these AI models are tools,” Stoll said. “They can be helpful; they can be harmful.”

With AI tools that are truly helpful, Stoll said the challenge is making them affordable for rural hospitals and Federally Qualified Health Centers.

“Thinking about it in a responsible way is really, really key,” Stoll said. “And it's going to take all of us. It’ll take the whole country, coming together and having datasets representing all of the country, all of the communities.”

Other health leaders participating in TRAIN spoke about the need to keep health equity in mind with the development of AI in healthcare.

“AI presents vast potential for innovation in healthcare," Peter S. Greene, M.D., chief medical information officer of Johns Hopkins Medicine, said in a statement. "To harness these benefits, we must develop reliable and trustworthy systems. We are eager to join the collaborative approach proposed by TRAIN, bringing together experts to take practical steps to responsibly operationalize AI."

Microsoft is the technology enabling partner. Dr. David Rhew, global chief medical officer and vice president of healthcare, Microsoft, said it’s key to implement AI in healthcare responsibly.

“By working together, TRAIN members aim to establish best practices for operationalizing responsible AI, helping improve patient outcomes and safety while fostering trust in healthcare AI,” Rhew said in a statement.

This is the list of hospitals and health systems participating in the TRAIN initiative: AdventHealth, Advocate Health, Boston Children’s Hospital, Cleveland Clinic, Duke Health, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Mass General Brigham, MedStar Health, Mercy, Mount Sinai Health System, Northwestern Medicine, Providence, Sharp HealthCare, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

TruBridge, formerly known as CPSI, a healthcare solutions company working with rural and community partners, is also participating in the initiative.

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