Artificial Intelligence is coming to healthcare.
While it may seem far away now (perhaps just a speck on the horizon), it’s becoming harder and harder to ignore the warnings that it’s getting bigger, it’s gaining speed, and it’s heading right for us.
Now, if you’ve seen any end-of-the-world movie, you probably know there are two options when an extraterrestrial force is barreling towards you. You can either (A) listen to the grizzled, cynical company men and ignore it (which usually spells certain death), or (B) you can assemble a rough-and-tumble diverse group of innovators and give them the tools to do something about it. Cleveland Clinic is choosing the latter, and the team to do it is BrainX.
The concept for BrainX began with Piyush Mathur, MD, a general anesthesiologist and intensivist at Cleveland Clinic. Given his infectious curiosity in AI, coupled with his daily observations of opportunities to enhance care and outcomes in many different environments, the choice to be the resident AI flag-bearer was an easy one.
“There are just so many facets in clinical care that it could fix from data analysis to prevention of harmful events,” said Dr. Mathur. “We need to work together now to make sure it works for us, and not the other way around.”
Dr. Mathur has put together a lineup with various skillsets to implement and leverage AI technologies. His co-investigator is Dr. Frank Papay, Cleveland Clinic’s Chair of Dermatology & Plastic Surgery. Dr. Papay is a renowned innovator with numerous ventures ranging from neurostimulation and wound care to augmented reality. BrainX has also brought on two colleagues from the Anesthesiology Institute, Ashish Khanna, MD, and Jacek Cywinski, MD, a commercialization expert in Ben Oster, JD from Cleveland Clinic Innovations, and an information security expert in Mangoné Fall from the Information Technology Division at Cleveland Clinic.
To take the team’s capabilities to a new level, however, team BrainX gained support from some of the foremost leaders in the Machine Learning field: Pradeep Ravikumar and Jeremy Wess, MD, PhD from Carnegie Mellon University, which has recently positioned itself as the nation’s leading academic center for AI.
“We have it right here, right now. It’s just waiting to be activated,” says Dr. Mathur. “Because we are generating this data, we believe many of the AI solutions will need to be generated by caregivers for caregivers if it’s ever going to achieve the patient outcomes that we think are possible. That’s where the BrainX team comes in.”
While the task to bring AI into healthcare is a tall one, BrainX has a very specific objective: Win the IBM Watson XPRIZE, a $5 million competition in which teams from all over the world are charged with accelerating the adoption of AI technologies in any industry. Out of 683 teams, BrainX recently advanced to round 2, in which they are the only team out of 59 to be focused on healthcare. The final three teams will compete for the grand prize and have the opportunity to present at TED 2020.
According to Dr. Mathur, the XPRIZE is more than just a competition, it offers an ideal opportunity for Cleveland Clinic to find its footing with AI.
“The magnitude of AI’s imminent disruption of healthcare is difficult to envision, and is therefore sometimes difficult to rally around specific commercial ideas and solutions,” said Dr. Mathur. “The XPRIZE, however, gives us that shorter-term goal to shoot for. When we get there – and I know we will – we will have built a foundation for the next era of healthcare, and it will be ripe with commercial solutions for seamlessly leveraging AI to make our systems more streamlined, and our patients much healthier.”