Embracing AI in Our Health Care

My book – The Future You, was discussed on the Society for Radiation Oncology Administrators | VOL 32 No. 3 Journal by Tammy McCausland. Here’s the full piece.

In his book, The Future You, Harry Glorikian explores integration and implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) in our lives. Glorikian’s goal was to provide the average person with information to understand how they could incorporate different technologies into their life to make a difference on a daily basis. “You can do things at home now that you needed to go to a nurse or a doctor for, just maybe five years ago. There are full-blown medical technologies that can be sitting on your wrist, or your finger for that matter,” he says.

Glorikian stresses how important it is for people to understand the companies they’re dealing with. He trusts Apple’s privacy policy, but with other platforms, he takes the time to learn about the companies and their policies. Some available technologies, like remote patient monitoring, are directly connect- ed to a patient’s physician (the provider), who needs to follow all the right policies and procedures to ensure confidentiality and data integrity. “In some ways, I would be more worried about somebody breaking into the hospital IT system and stealing all the data,” he says. “You’ll hear stories that XYZ medical system had a data breach and a million records were stolen because those million stolen records become something that somebody can sell online, as opposed to my single heartbeat data that I might be using in a live core platform [on a watch or cell phone].”

He opines that we’re at a turning point regarding the integration of AI and machine learning technologies being used in health care. Different forms of AI and related technologies are already integrated into daily workflows. “At some point it will be everywhere, used every way, whether it’s looking at images from radiology, pathology to dermatology. Anything imaging based is already being revolutionized by AI,” says Glorikian.

While the technology will permeate every aspect of health care, he cautions that it has to be rolled out carefully. “You still need quality control. You need to put the right systems in place to make sure that it’s [the technology] doing what it’s supposed to, and it doesn’t veer off the path as you’re adding more data,” he says. AI and data technologies add benefits to the healthcare systems, but so will technologies that monitor patients and people before they get sick.

The human element will remain essential in health care. “The AI plus the human always outperforms one or the other by themselves. The AI system isn’t necessarily communicating with the human. You need a human communicating with another human,” he says. “We never want that aspect of health care to go away. You want human interaction, that human touch, to always be there along with some next level of judgment in combination with the system to manage that patient.”

Consumers of health care may prefer to know when an AI system is being used, but that’s not always necessary. As Glorikian explains, we use other technologies in health care without knowing the ins and out of how everything works. For example, if a patient gets an MRI, they don’t ask how the machinery works, how the technician does their job, or how the results get analyzed. “The patient goes in and expects an answer based on the expert’s analysis,” says Glorikian. “Personally, I don’t think I need to be told that it was the AI system that highlighted a lesion. I’m assuming it highlighted the lesion, and a doctor looked at the lesion and said, ‘Yes, that is correct.’ It isn’t really just the AI system making the call on its own. There’s a physician putting their stamp on it afterwards.”

Technology integration always comes with ethical issues. Glorikian says, “Technology historically has always run ahead of the ethical implications because we develop it, and then we’re like, ‘Uh-oh. We didn’t think of that one.’ Ethics should be taken into consideration, but the expectation that we’re going to think of everything before it actually happens is not realistic.” As soon as a problem arises, though, it is always appropriate for the relevant organization and committees to convene to figure out how to manage these problems.

“At some point it will be everywhere, used every way, whether it’s looking at images from radiology, pathology to dermatology. Anything imaging based is already being revolutionized by AI.” – Harry Glorikian

Glorikian says he intended his book to be “a guide about how to incorporate AI into your health and wellness journey. There’s something in the book that could apply to almost anyone.” For example, readers have shared with him that they’ve purchased a Fitbit or Apple Watch and noticed that a glass of wine in the evening disrupted their deep sleep, so they make a change. “People have made practical changes and noticed a positive impact on their health and wellness,” he says.

As emerging AI and data technologies are integrated, they are certain to have a profound effect on patient care and how healthcare professionals do their jobs. Glorikian suggests that healthcare professionals should try to dig in and understand these changes that are happening in their particular specialty and emphasizes the need to be open to change. “Openness to adoption and change is critical because the technology is going to cause a shift. It’s going to have an effect on healthcare roles and may cause a shift in business practice,” he says.