Embracing AI, the new frontier in healthcare: a conversation with Novant Health’s EVP & CMSO, Eric Eskioğlu, MD, MBA and LeanTaaS’ CEO Mohan Giridharadas

Recently, LeanTaaS’ founder and Chief Executive Officer Mohan Giridharadas and Eric Eskioğlu, MD, MBA, Neurosurgeon, Executive Vice President, Chief Medical & Scientific Officer and Co-Director, Institute of Innovation and Artificial Intelligence, Novant Health came together at the Transform Hospital Operations Summit in partnership with Becker’s.

The two leaders discussed how Novant Health has learned to embrace AI to protect patients, increase job satisfaction, and help reduce burnout.

Mohan Giridharadas: Can you talk a little about your background and how your unique perspective helped drive Novant Health’s AI journey?

Dr. Eric Eskioğlu: I began my career as an aerospace and mechanical engineer in the aviation industry before I embarked on a career in medicine as a neurosurgeon and Chief Medical & Scientific Officer and Co-Director of the Institute of Innovation and AI for Novant Health. When I began my tenure at Novant Health, I actually found I could apply much of my experience in the aviation and aerospace industry to healthcare. Both fields are logistically complex and asset-intensive, with an essential focus on safety and quality, avoiding errors is critical. In the event of an error both industries risk people’s lives.

The fact is, US healthcare is not trending toward avoiding errors. The renowned 1999 To Err is Human report showed that annually 200,000 people died from medical errors and serious safety events. Last year, that number was up to 450,000. That is the equivalent to two big planes full of passengers crashing every day. How much of the public would fly if they saw two planes crashing every day?

We need to learn from all the experience we have had in the aviation industry and automate processes to reduce errors and improve safety and quality. When you go on an airplane today, you do not think about the autopilot being in the background, giving information to the pilot and helping him fly the plane, but the AI-based technology that performs this function is critical for safe passage. I recognize we need to continue applying those same checks and balances to promote safety and quality in healthcare, and that has influenced much of my work in applying AI at Novant Health.

I recently collaborated with my colleague, Chief Digital and Transformation Officer Angela Yochem, to launch Novant Health’s AI journey before the COVID-19 pandemic. About five years ago we began discussing the potential use of AI in our organization, and the concept was initially met by some with fear of the unknown. Fast forward to 2022, and Novant Health is now one of the most innovative health systems in the United States, and we are able to implement, execute, and operationalize AI successfully across our network.

Read the full interview here.

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