First Event on Artificial Intelligence and Learning Health Systems Finds Success

A new gathering co-sponsored by the University of Florida brought together 100 experts in medicine from across the U.S. to share ideas about the potential of artificial intelligence to supercharge health care. The conference for researchers and physicians was held Sept. 7 and 8 in St. Pete Beach and was co-hosted by the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute and the OneFlorida+ Clinical Research Network, a multi-state partnership with a coordinating center at the university.  

The event’s title was “Transforming Patient-Centered Health Care Delivery through an AI-enabled Learning Health System.” A learning health system, or LHS, refers to a large-scale framework that enables continuous learning and improvement of patient outcomes, as explained by opening keynote speaker Chris Forrest, M.D., Ph.D., from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He stated that the entire country of Switzerland intends to function as an LHS.

Forrest shared the case of a two-year-old child who died in a Philadelphia hospital and wondered: Could he have been saved in an LHS world? This anecdote set the stage for the importance of this work and the potential of AI to advance medicine in new ways. 

“This conference has a role to play in how AI can support the hospitals and health care systems of the future, and I’m so pleased that UF is leading this important movement,” said Elizabeth Shenkman, Ph.D., an LHS leader and chair of UF’s Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics department in the College of Medicine, and co-director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

Michael Kurilla from the National Institutes of Health poses a question during one of the conference’s panel sessions.
Michael Kurilla from the National Institutes of Health poses a question during one of the conference’s panel sessions.

Smart Health Care

The conference featured posters, panels, and specialized talks about patient safety and many other issues that could be addressed by an intelligent LHS. Forrest claimed that “intelligent health care” does not yet exist but that people-centric research and continuous learning could make it possible.

Because this field of learning is novel, experts need to share their most current findings and breakthroughs. Because this event is new, there was an important announcement at its conclusion.

“This conference will happen again next year,” said Jiang Bian, Ph.D., a professor in Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics and a premier researcher applying AI to health care. A related AI conference from UF’s College of Medicine, called AI4HealthCarev, is also planning its second version for 2024.

Learning to Fly

Michael Kurilla, M.D., Ph.D., a director in the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health, compared the state of the fledgling field to the first flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, and how decades of progress led to people landing on the moon.  

The future of AI and health care is unknown, but it could be as exciting and transformative as space travel. At conferences like this one, physicians, researchers, and managers are finding ways to collaborate and build the smartest possible health care systems of the future.

To learn more about this conference, visit its website.