I arrived at the Rayburn House Office Building on Independence Avenue ready to seize the day. My flight to Washington, DC had landed early, and there was no line at the security checkpoint. I was grateful for the opportunity to take it all in and walk about the impressive building that’s home-away-from-home for many of our U.S. representatives.
Just days earlier I had received an invitation from Graham Dufault of Connected Health Initiative to participate in a panel discussion about the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare—for the Artificial Intelligence Caucus on Capitol Hill. I remain humbled by the invitation and was honored to accept.
The panel opened with remarks from Congressman Pete Olson from the 22nd district Texas. I was joined on the panel by Graham Dufault as moderator, Betsy Furler of Communication Circles, Joshua New from the Center for Data Innovation, and Dr. Akane Sano from Rice University. Betsy presented mobile applications that are helping people with visual and verbal impairments better navigate the world around them using AI. Joshua brought expertise in the areas of policy and government affairs. Dr. Sano shared her work in the areas of depression and AI.
And me? Well, I got to speak about the very things I’m most passionate about – the ways in which AI will have a positive impact on the future of healthcare; unburdening physicians with real-world solutions to documentation challenges; and how, ultimately, AI can help doctors do what they do best: care for patients.
The people in the room—mostly Congressional staffers and policy experts—asked engaging, in-depth, technical questions that kept me on my toes. It was clear that these are people who clearly care about what they do and how it will affect people and populations.
I took the time to explain that the impact AI will have on healthcare will come from a new and expanded use of AI-powered solutions, such as conversational virtual assistants combined with mobility. It’s in this area that we will begin to see highly intelligent systems that can act in partnership with human intelligence in powerful ways.
I highlighted that Nuance Healthcare, for example, focuses on augmenting a physician’s capabilities with data and intelligence that were previously unavailable or hard to access. What’s key here is that the interaction is natural and an integrated part of a physician’s regular workflow. So, AI in healthcare will not only solve problems but also open avenues for improved diagnoses and treatments.
Although my time on Capitol Hill was a new experience for me and for Nuance, it opened my eyes to a realm of possibilities – a place where Nuance continues this work of advocacy and guidance from a policy perspective. For me personally, I’m looking forward to using this briefing as a springboard to continue conversations and find new platform to emphasize the need to create a data information highway in a free, open, interoperable way, where the exchange of information will facilitate technologies like AI, but more importantly, it will generate greater human benefits from the wider availability of information and conversation.