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AI Oversight of Growing Interest to Health Care Executives

By MedTech Intelligence Staff
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A new survey from the Center for Connected Medicine at UPMC Sheds light on how healthcare systems are navigating both the promise and the possible risk of AI and generative AI.

 Artificial intelligence (AI) is drawing greater interest from health systems looking to reduce the burden of documentation on clinicians and add automation to administrative functions, among other potential benefits. Yet, very few health systems have written formal policies addressing the use of AI and even fewer have policies specific to generative AI, according to a new survey from the Center for Connected Medicine at UPMC (CCM).

The CCM partnered with KLAS Research to survey nearly three dozen health system executives about how they are navigating both the promise of AI and the possible risk to patient data and privacy that could accompany the use of AI in health care without appropriate safeguards.

While only 16% of survey respondents said their organizations had a system-wide governance policy in place, many said their health systems have formed governance committees of senior executives from multiple departments to oversee AI. Several respondents also said their organizations are waiting for federal regulations to be issued before creating their own policies. Other challenges or roadblocks to setting up system-wide AI policies cited by respondents included navigating the complexity of AI and its intersection with ethical, legal, and compliance rules and policies; a lack of internal expertise to evaluate AI solutions in a clinical environment; a desire to focus on more-immediate priorities; and a need to first develop mature IT infrastructure to support AI applications.

Robert Bart, UPMC
Robert Bart, M.D.

“There are many ways health care can and will benefit from AI, including freeing up our clinicians to focus more on caring for patients and helping systems more efficiently process a range of tasks,” said Robert Bart, M.D., chief medical information officer for UPMC, which is a founding partner of the CCM. “But it is essential that health care executives also take seriously the responsibility to protect our patients’ privacy and health data.”

In addition to surveying health system leaders on their approaches to overseeing AI, the survey also addressed the promise of generative AI. Executives identified improving efficiency, bringing more visibility to clinical decisions, and automating repetitive tasks as the top three ways they expect generative AI to enhance health care.

Generative AI is making its way into health care settings, including as integrated solutions within electronic health record systems (EHRs). Of the executives surveyed, 70% said they have or plan to adopt AI solutions via EHR vendors due to the easy integration.

Jeffrey Jones, UPMC
Jeffrey Jones

“Before adopting generative AI technologies in health care, it’s crucial for executives to clearly define their objectives and establish measurable benchmarks,” said Jeffrey Jones, senior vice president of product development at UPMC Enterprises, the innovation, commercialization, and venture capital arm of UPMC. “Regular evaluations are essential to adjust strategies as necessary. Generative AI is not a one-time fix, but a dynamic tool that requires attention and calibration.”

The research was conducted in October and November 2023 and surveyed executives and other leaders at U.S. hospitals and health systems. The report, “How Health Systems are Navigating the Complexities of AI,” can be downloaded from the Center for Connected Medicine website.




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