The tech getting every C-suite leader excited

For the first time one piece of technology has garnered the attention of all healthcare C-suite leaders, Nigam Shah, MD, PhD, chief data scientist at Palo Alto, Calif.-based Stanford Health Care, told JAMA on Nov. 15. 

This technology is artificial intelligence, according to Dr. Shah.

"The thing I'm most excited about is that a lot of people care," he told the publication. "Has there ever been a time that for one single piece of technology, everybody from the CEO to the chief medical officer to the chief nursing officer, the pharmacist, everybody cared? Never before has that happened."

Despite this, Dr. Shah said the hype around the technology is a bit "out of hand."

"Sometimes it's like we're riding the hype curve so fast, we might reach escape velocity and never come back," he said. "I think what we have to do is be intentional about what the goal is here. We have to clearly articulate the desired outcome and then verify whether we're getting it."

Dr. Shah gave the example of using language models to respond to patient queries, stating that it is crucial to define the objective. 

"If we want these language models to answer patient queries instead of a human answering them, what's the goal? Is it to reduce the physician burden or is it to make sure the patient gets the right answer?" he said. 

While reducing the physician burden is possible, he said it should not come in the form of providing random responses to patients. Therefore, according to Dr. Shah, it is essential to articulate the goal up front. 

"A lot of these pilots that I see happening today are trying something and seeing what happens as opposed to an intentional experiment," he said. 

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