‘Our patients are waiting’: Docs push hospitals to establish clinical AI departments

A group of physicians and data scientists is urging hospitals to embrace the future and launch entire departments dedicated to clinical AI. Sharing their commentary in BMJ Health & Care Informatics, the group notes that AI is on pace to usurp the EHR as the most disappointing application of technology within medicine. 

“The medical literature is increasingly populated with perspective pieces lauding the transformative nature of AI and forecasting an unforeseen disruption in the way we are practicing,” wrote David J. Stone, MD, University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and colleagues. “However, the reality of the available evidence increasingly leaves little room for optimism. As a result, there is a stark contrast between the lack of concrete penetration of AI in medical practice, and the expectations set by the presence of AI in our daily life.”

A key aspect of the group’s proposal is that “AI-ready” healthcare facilities are needed if providers are going to truly tackle the many challenges associated with implementation. Hospitals should know how to utilize real-time data, for instance, and integrate AI into physician workflows. This helps ensure that systems work the first time instead of needing to be modified again and again.

“This is an opportunity to do it right from very near to the beginning of clinical AI’s use, rather than having to repair and replace a flawed system in the future,” Stone said in a UVA news release.

Establishing AI departments can also help providers deal with financial and regulatory issues, preparing data for payers and working to determine the best possible paths for success.

“With the innumerable ways in which medicine could be improved, the hype around AI in healthcare will only be realized when the scattered champions of this movement emerge from their silos and begin formally working as a team under the same roof,” the authors concluded. “Our patients are waiting for us to make use of these advances to improve their care, and every day wasted is a missed opportunity. Therefore, we ask—who will establish the first department of clinical AI?”

The full proposal is available here.