AI starts to deliver in the enterprise at last

AI starts to deliver in the enterprise at lastComputers soon could deliver smarter healthcare to patients at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in the US.

That’s the goal of a new partnership between Partners HealthCare, the hospital’s parent organization, and GE Healthcare. The two Boston-based institutions in May announced a 10-year collaboration to develop and integrate artificial intelligence throughout Partners’ clinical operations.

Partners hopes AI can improve patient outcomes and increase clinician productivity. The nonprofit healthcare system plans to first use AI to enhance diagnostic imaging, with intelligent systems being developed to detect, for example, even minute changes in tumors and then use data analysis to determine optimal treatments tailored to each case.

This is the future of medicine, but it’s been a long time in the making. The medical community has been laying the groundwork for such advances for years, said Dr. Mark Michalski, executive director of the Center for Clinical Data Science, a collaboration of MGH and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“We’ve been collecting and annotating data for decades without knowing that this was when artificial intelligence was going to take,” Michalski said. “The tools are now quite good, and the potential is astounding.”

Partners officials say they expect to create new business models for applying AI to clinic work, with roles for the technology from patient admission to discharge. Early applications could include determining the prognostic impact of stroke, identifying fractures in emergency room patients and indicating the likelihood of cancer on ultrasound.

AI is the next wave of business technology innovation, and organizations such as Partners are charging ahead with initiatives to identify and develop the use cases that will yield the best early results. But there’s plenty of work to do before even getting to that stage, with the bulk of that work falling to CIOs and their IT departments. Now is the time to prepare, analysts say.

“This is top of mind for CIOs and even CEOs. And although last year it was being researched more than it was actually being used, we are seeing more use it or have concrete plans to use it,” said Forrester Research analyst Mike Gualtieri.

A Forrester report called “Artificial Intelligence: What’s Possible for Enterprises in 2017” found that only 12% of the 391 business and technology professionals it polled are currently using AI systems. However, 58% are researching AI technologies and what it takes to support their use in the enterprise, and 39% are identifying and designing AI capacities to deploy. The report, published in November 2016, also found that 36% of respondents are educating the business or building the business case about AI’s potential.