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How Artificial Intelligence Could Improve Health Care

Three IU researchers are working to develop a computer system they say could improve the quality and decrease the cost of medical treatment.

stethoscope

Photo: Connor Tartar

The artificial intelligence system uses algorithms to determine the best possible series of treatments for a patient.

Three Indiana University scientists are making strides in researching how artificial intelligence can improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care, and a new grant will help further their work.

The National Science Foundation awarded a $686,000 grant to two IU computer scientists and an IU biomedical informatics physician to research computer techniques that can quickly process extremely large amounts of data.

Kris Hauser, the lead investigator and assistant professor of computer science at IU, says the research advances processes that are already in place, but allows health care professionals to use them more effectively to optimize patient treatment plans.

“So healthcare providers are already having to collect all this data in order to comply with various policies and insurers who use this information as well,” Hauser says. “So in terms of gathering that data, that’s something that’s already been happening for the past couple of decades. But putting that data to use is something that we really need to put much more effort into.”

The technology combines artificial intelligence techniques that mine for patterns in large electronic health care databases, and input those patterns into a mathematical framework. That framework then determines the best  possible treatment for an individual patient.

Essentially, the program allows computer systems to think about the possibilities patients could face in the future and weigh different outcomes to optimize treatement.

Hauser says although artificial intelligence has been shown to outperform human doctors in a variety of tasks, these systems are designed to work alongside doctors.

“So, what we’re trying to do is not replace doctors, but we’re trying to build a system that can work alongside human doctors, that provide rationale for why it thinks a particular course of treatment is going to be the best one,” he says.

Clinical partners in the prototype testing will include Centerstone Research Institute, a behavioral health service provider in Indiana and Tennessee; Wisconsin-based Marshfield Clinic; South Bend Memorial Hospital and Wake Forest School of Medicine.

Taylor Killough

Taylor Killough is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has studied anthropology and digital journalism. She has professional experience in education and communications and is excited to be a part of the award-winning team at WFIU/WTIU.

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  • Bob Eckert

    Hey, since there seems to be a shortage of real intelligence in the healthcare industry, I’m game for anything that might help.

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