Google, Fitbit, industry groups join to advance AI tools

By | April 9, 2019

Dive Brief:

  • More than 30 tech giants, digital health companies, trade associations and health industry players have banded together with hopes of advancing the use of artificial intelligence in healthcare.
  • As part of the Consumer Technology Association’s AI initiative, AdvaMed, Google, Doctor On Demand and other organizations will work toward providing standards and best practices for AI use cases in medicine and health.
  • The aim is to optimize AI’s potential to improve health outcomes and efficiencies while cutting costs.

Dive Insight:

The joint effort comes as health systems are stepping up adoption and investment in data analytics, including predictive analytics and AI. In recent survey of CIOs, CTOs and chief analytics officers conducted by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, 84% said such technology will be extremely important to their organization’s strategy over the next three years.

Other healthcare sectors are investing in AI as well, giving rise to potential safety, efficacy and ethical issues as the technology is more frequently used.

One year ago, FDA approved the first autonomous AI diagnostic system for sale in the U.S. The cloud-based IDx-DR software detects diabetic retinopathy in images taken by retinal cameras. And in February, Verily, the life sciences arm of Google parent Alphabet, launched an eye disease screening algorithm at Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, India.

Earlier this month, FDA released a draft framework detailing types of AI/machine learning-based algorithm changes in medical devices that might be exempt from premarket submission requirements. In announcing the framework, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb noted that depending on periodic modifications by manufacturers could hobble AI’s promise to constantly evolve and improve treatment timeliness and patient outcomes.

Meanwhile, the industry Connected Health Initiative’s Health AI Task Force unveiled a set of policy principles to guide use of AI systems in real-world workflow.

The CTA AI initiative will also explore issues around ethics and bias when cognitive computing and machine learning are applied in ways that impact patient care.

“The rapid progress of AI presents great opportunities but a special challenge that needs urgent attention,” Rene Quashie, CTA’s vice president of policy and regulatory affairs for digital affairs, said in a statement. “This unique working group represents a diverse set of stakeholders across the ecosystem, including clinicians, manufacturers, regulators, public policy and civil rights organizations. The work produced will provide an informed framework for the use of AI in the context of health care.”

Other members of the CTA-led group include IBM, Fitbit, the American Telemedicine Association, CarePredict, Brookings Institution and the Federation of State Medical Boards.

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