The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has announced the launch of its Department of Artificial Intelligence and Human Health, aimed at enhancing opportunities for collaboration among medical and computer scientists.
Billed as the foremost department of its kind within a medical school, the department will train the next generation of healthcare scientists and work toward a goal of establishing an AI framework throughout the health system’s hospitals and ambulatory clinics.
“While we must continue to vigorously oppose dystopian misuse of artificial intelligence for surveillance and propaganda, it is clear that within the healthcare arena, patients are dying not because of AI but because we are not using it,” said Thomas J. Fuchs, the school’s dean for artificial intelligence and human health, in a statement.
WHY IT MATTERS
The goals of the new department are twofold, according to Mount Sinai officials.
Firstly, it will aim to teach state-of-the-art technologies in AI health, large-scale machine learning, and digital health that relies on medical devices, robotic machines and sensors.
Among other courses and seminars, this will include AI fellowships allowing medical students protected time to work on AI projects for an entire academic year.
Secondly, its architects envision an AI-driven “intelligent fabric” woven throughout all healthcare and biomedicine at Mount Sinai.
The framework will enable productivity and decision support at the local level, strategic decision making at the hospital level, and personalized services at the patient level.
The strategy also includes investments in building a comprehensive infrastructure aimed at accelerating data-fueled biomedical research.
“Looking at the larger picture, we believe that within the national and international competition of health care providers, the health system that is infused with artificial intelligence and capable of realizing the gains of AI by itself will carry the day,” said Fuchs.
THE LARGER TREND
The launch of the department echoes Mount Sinai’s new Institute for Digital Health in 2019.
At the time, officials hoped the endeavor would “usher in a new era of digital health at Mount Sinai that advances the field of precision medicine.”
But even as AI has made highly publicized leaps and bounds in the healthcare setting in the past few years – particularly in the context of COVID-19 – experts have emphasized the importance of avoiding what they call an “AI winter.”
“We now are at risk of another AI winter in healthcare due to several AI solutions falling short of their initial hype, including natural language processing, deep learning and machine learning, which is decreasing trust in AI by users,” Booz Allen Hamilton Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kevin Vigilante told Healthcare IT News this past month.
Healthcare organizations should mitigate AI’s momentum risks, advised Vigilante, by implementing self-governance practices and proactively shaping the technology’s future.
ON THE RECORD
“The overarching goal of the Department for AI and Human Health is to impact patients’ health with AI. We will accomplish this by building AI systems at scale from data representing Mount Sinai’s diverse patient population. These systems will work seamlessly across all hospitals and care units to support physicians, foster research, and most importantly help patients’ care and well-being,” said Fuchs.