Data is Key: How to Better Manage the Pandemics and Speed Up AI Adoption in Healthcare
Researchers working on health information technology and analytics gathered, virtually, with practitioners and policy makers, to share research insights, practice challenges and policy implications at the 11th Annual Conference on Health IT and Analytics (CHITA 2020). The conference, hosted on Oct. 8-10, 2020 by Center for Health Information and Decision Systems (CHIDS) by the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, featured cutting edge research from top scholars, and included keynotes from leading practitioners and academics.
Joshua Gans, the Jeffrey S. Skoll Chair of Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, was a featured keynote speaker. He writes in his forthcoming book, The Pandemic Information Gap: “Pandemics may be unpredictable, but they can be planned for.” He builds upon his earlier book “Economics in the Age of COVID,” which “shows that containing the virus and pausing the economy—without letting businesses fail and people lose their jobs—are the necessary first steps.” For starters, rapid antigen testing at points of entry to public places is a key.
“My main takeaway: Pandemics are fundamentally manageable, [but] we seem not to be ‘managing’ this particular pandemic,” Gans said during CHITA, referring to the United States, which has led the world in COVID deaths, while lagging in testing capacity behind many countries – notably the likes of South Korea and Taiwan, which “ramped up testing and contact tracing and solving the information problem… They were able to consistently get ahead of this virus. Outbreaks still occur, but they know where they are.” So, the key is to get hold of infected cases via testing in a timely manner, he added.
(For more on contact tracing, read the U.S. News & World Report op-ed, “Smartphones can boost public health tracking in the U.S.,” by Maryland Smith’s Ritu Agarwal, interim dean and the Robert H. Smith Dean’s Chair of Information Systems and founder and director of CHIDS.)
In another CHITA keynote, Dr. Daniel Durand, MD, chief innovation officer of LifeBridge Health, reinforced the importance of real-time data in care delivery. He reviewed enabling technologies that help track and measure patient behavior, such as mobile and wearable devices, drones and virtual reality. “Dr. Durand emphasized that we cannot just ‘suck’ in data, but need to take action on data, which needs patient engagement,” said Professor and Co-Director of CHIDS Gordon Gao, who also directs Maryland Smith’s Health Insights AI Lab.
Joining Gans and Durand as CHITA 2020 keynote speakers: Keith Dunleavy, MD, CEO and chairman of the board of Inovalon and Kartik Hosanagar, PhD, John C. Hower Professor of Technology and Digital Business and professor of marketing at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Dunleavy emphasized the trend for healthcare to become more data-driven, from monthly batch processing to near-real time patient-specific analytics. “He also showed the exciting upcoming wave of FHIR-enabled data APIs that will truly empower providers and consumers,” Gao said.
Professor Hosanagar, author of the book “A Human's Guide to Machine Intelligence,” shared his latest research on how to promote acceptance of AI. “He found that contrary to conventional wisdom that people would trust AI more once they know how it works, a more powerful way is to show people the performance advantages of AI,” Gao noted.
“This year’s conference delivered in illustrating the unprecedented opportunities to improve health outcomes and control costs that are being created through combining large amounts of digitized medical data with state-of-the-art machine intelligence methods,” said Agarwal. “This community has grown. This includes students who are becoming passionate about our opportunities to improve the cost, quality and efficiency and every other dimension of healthcare. Every year this community grows and evolves in incredible ways.”
The event further “reinforces CHIDS’ pioneering work at the intersection of AI, digital applications and healthcare,” she added.
Rounding out CHITA 2020: research panels and awards presentations, plus a doctoral student consortium preceding the main gathering – all via Zoom.
Best Paper Award went to University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management PhD student Jeffrey Clement (MBA ’14) and professors Yuqing Ren and Shawn Curley for “Disregarding, Modifying or Adopting: How Medical Experts Incorporate AI Recommendations into Patient Care Decisions.” Best Student-Authored Paper went to Harvard University PhD student A. Jay Holmgren for “The Impact of Quality Feedback on Hospital IT Safety Improvement,” and Christopher Whaley received the Young Scholar Award.
CHITA 2020 was produced in partnership with the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health and is supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. For more about this year’s event, and its history, go to the Conference on Health IT and Analytics homepage.
CHIDS experts, including Gao as academic director, also are helping lead Maryland Smith Executive Education’s AI Leadership for Healthcare professional program.
About the Center for Health Information & Decision Systems (CHIDS)
CHIDS is an academic research center of excellence based in the Department of Decision, Operations & Information Technology (DO&IT) at the Robert H. Smith School of Business that collaborates closely with industry, government, and other key health system stakeholders. CHIDS’ research seeks to understand how artificial intelligence and digital technologies can be more effectively deployed to address outcomes such as patient safety, healthcare quality, efficiency in healthcare delivery, and a reduction in health disparities. CHIDS offers the benefit of renowned scholars in healthcare analytics, technology innovation, implementation, and design. The pool of talent, knowledge and expertise in DO&IT is acknowledged by several publications as a top-5 performer in research production worldwide; the Information Systems group is ranked in the top-10 worldwide by Businessweek and U.S. News and World Report.