In a rapidly evolving technological landscape, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced technologies is reshaping industries across the board, and healthcare is no exception. Pau Rué, Phd, VP of Artificial Intelligence at Infermedica, brings his expertise to the forefront of this transformation. In a recent conversation, Pau Rué delves into the potential impact of Generative AI and Large Language Models (LLMs) on healthcare, shedding light on their role in addressing critical challenges. From enhancing patient care to data privacy concerns, he provides a holistic perspective on the future of healthcare in the wake of AI advancements.
Do you think the increased usage or Generative AI and LLMs will have a dramatic impact on the healthcare industry and, if so, how?
Definitely! Generative AI and LLMs are relatively new solutions that have gained global traction and popularity just recently with the success of OpenAI’s ChatGPT and GPT-4. Since then, companies, startups, and scientists are tirelessly finding new, brave applications of generative AI and LLMs. If implemented carefully and with proper safeguards, these technologies have a strong opportunity to reshape healthcare delivery. How? One of the biggest trends is improving patient communication, facilitating clinical documentation, data labeling, and patient empowerment.
If you could solve any global health problem in the world with AI, what would it be?
Democratizing access to quality healthcare! Rapidly dropping numbers of physicians and nurses (According to WHO, by 2030, we will have a deficit of 14 million healthcare workers globally), an aging population and a growing number of chronic conditions prevalence build up the gap between demand and supply. AI has the ability to bridge that gap by not replacing anybody but by reducing the burden put on white coat staff and helping them work at the top of their license, directing patients to the right level of care, and making it easier to transmit data from patients to providers and back.
What do you think will be the biggest impact of AI and tech in the healthcare sector in the next 5 years?
The world is changing at a fast pace. A couple of months ago, only a small fraction of people knew what AI and Large Language Models were. Fast forward to today. Tens of millions of people have used ChatGPT, the disruptive AI chatbot by OpenAI. The same AI is now being introduced in Search Engines like Microsoft’s Bing and Google’s Bard. It is thus not crazy to say that this is probably the fastest example of the “diffusion of new technology”. Taking that into account, predicting even one year from now is a considerable challenge, not to mention five years. But, trying to do my best to answer this question, I would say further personalization, streamlining of administrative tasks, better patient experience, and improvement of the quality of care provided.
What's your biggest fear around the application of AI/tech in the healthcare field?
Large Language Models like ChatGPT are powerful AIs trained on vast Internet text and fine-tuned to follow human instructions. Despite their impressive results in mimicking human-like conversations full of emotions and sometimes even empathy, they’re not yet mature enough for critical tasks like healthcare support. To serve patients, we need safe, accurate and clinically validated AI models to provide knowledge and evidence-based medicine. So, my biggest fear would be an unpredictable expansion of AI and LLMs escaping those requirements, which brings even more fear and uncertainty than Dr. Google today because LLMs are so skilled in running conversations that sound smart and convincing.
What two people do you admire most in the world of healthcare?:
Throughout history, numerous great minds have positively shaped healthcare and made it what it is today. While many stand out, two recent inspirations are noteworthy.
First is Dr. Isaac Kohane, a pediatric endocrinologist who leads the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School. Not only has he been at the forefront of Biomedical Informatics and medical AI, but his innovative approach is illustrated by his recent work co-authoring a book detailing the application of GPT-4 in medical tasks. His vision of utilizing AI for healthcare offers a glimpse into a future where technology and medicine are harmoniously intertwined.
Secondly, I admire Dr. Michael Abramoff, a distinguished (and controversial) neuroscientist, ophthalmologist, and medical AI trailblazer. He founded Digital Diagnostics, the first company to secure FDA clearance for an autonomous AI diagnostic system. Dr. Abramoff's profound insights into autonomous AI's liability, bioethics, and health economics have laid a solid foundation that challenges conventional thinking and helps shape the ethical framework for AI in healthcare.
Both of these individuals embody the innovative spirit and ethical consideration necessary for advancing the integration of AI into healthcare. Their work serves as a beacon, guiding professionals like myself toward a future where technology amplifies human capabilities to diagnose, treat, and understand illness in ways we've only begun to imagine.
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