I am currently at Intelligent Health’s AI conference in Basel so thought I should write a blog post on the topic.  I first got really interested in AI at SXSW a few years ago when I saw the applications of AI in chatbots for patient groups with limited access to care, such as refugees.  I have since looked deeper at the topic as a result of the Reverse Mentoring project and believe this is a technology that will really bring huge value to our industry.

One thing that strikes me from the presentations I have seen at this conference is the level of partnerships between pharma and tech companies.  This is a trend that I hope we will see more of – big cumbersome pharma companies are not the most innovative but by partnering with start-ups there is a great opportunity to bring new, innovative thinking into the organisation.  However to get the full value of these partnerships it would be worth sharing that experience and learnings with a broader internal audience.  Too often these partnerships remain within a small team and other people not directly connected to the partnership have no idea it is happening or the outcomes.  If we want to drive new thinking in the industry then we also need to disseminate outcomes from these partnerships more broadly within companies.

Another factor that is clearly coming across in this conference is how critical access to data is.  Whilst I have heard patients mentioned a few times I have not yet seen anything that is looking at empowering patients to share their data (and full disclaimer there are multiple streams so maybe this was covered in a stream I didn’t attend).  By combining AI with Blockchain for example we might see some innovative solutions to the patient data access issue.  Having more accessible data will benefit everyone – not just the AI technology but also the patients and HCPs themselves.  I have heard so many people complain about going to a new doctor and having to essentially start from scratch as they do not have access to their full digital record.  Of course at the same time we need security and privacy for these said records.

Leading on from this point (again with same disclaimer!) I am also struck – but not surprised – that with all this talk of patient data there appears to be no actual patients on stage talking about what AI really means to them.  Just as I have spoken at conferences about how social media has had a huge impact on my health it would also be great to actually hear from patients who have seen a positive impact from AI.


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