A stethoscope isn’t traditionally thought of as augmented intelligence for physicians, but Abel Kho, MD, argues it’s a tool that has made physicians more effective and thus, augmented physicians deliver better patient care. Wearable technology, AI-assisted imaging, smart stethoscopes, digital apps and machine learning can similarly transform the practice of medicine – but Kho says medical professionals and biomedical scientists are critically needed to help shape the development of these next-generation biomedical tools.
To that end, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine has established a new Institute for Augmented Intelligence in Medicine (I.AIM), with the goal of augmenting human expertise with computational methods to advance the science of human health. The new institute builds on the work of numerous faculty across Northwestern and unifies programs in artificial intelligence in medicine, genetic analysis, deep phenotyping, ethics and data science.
“Our work is grounded by the recognition that medical care is delivered by people, for people, and that technology alone will not solve our most pressing problems,” said Kho, director of the new institute. “Housing an institute in AI within a medical school means we are solely and uniquely focused on applying AI to improve and transform human health. We are guided by our ‘patients first’ mission and anchored by a commitment to responsible, ethical and open science.”
With Kho, an associate professor of Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, at the helm, the new institute will bring together research, education and sustainable innovation, offering opportunities for faculty, students and trainees, as well as collaborations with other Northwestern schools including the McCormick School of Engineering, Kellogg School of Management and Pritzker Law School.
A focus on getting the data right and spending time to ensure data quality and privacy is critical, Kho said, and will help to ensure the widest range of Northwestern investigators can tap into consistent, high quality and secure data, and can have access to the most advanced analytics tools and computing capacity.
“Our I.AIM Central Data Team is leading the charge to identify the highest priority data access and analytics needs on campus to develop efficient, scalable, and secure data pipes and analysis methods in order to speed up medical AI research and translation,” said Kho, who is also an associate professor of Preventive Medicine in the Division of Health and Biomedical Informatics.
The institute’s central data team will be led by: Chief AI Officer Yuan Luo, PhD, an associate professor of Preventive Medicine and at the McCormick School of Engineering; Chief Data Engineer Mozziyar Etemadi, MD, PhD, a research assistant professor at the McCormick School of Engineering and of Anesthesiology at Feinberg; Chief Informatics Officer Firas Wehbe, MD, PhD, Feinberg’s chief research informatics officer and associate professor of Preventive Medicine and of Pathology; and Chief Ethics Officer Kelly Michelson, MD, MPH, director of the Institute for Public Health and Medicine’s Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities and the Julia and David Uihlein Professor of Bioethics and Medical Humanities.
Kho said that as a practicing physician, it’s critical the institute’s projects will help physicians deliver better patient care, rather than hinder their ability to practice medicine.
“It’s important that we use technology to solve medical challenges without losing sight of how changes can affect privacy, physician workflow, and trust between patients and their caregivers,” Kho said. “We want to be thoughtful in our approach to ensure we’re not adding tasks to the physician’s workload, but rather, reducing mundane tasks. Technologists love to talk about disrupting health care, but with increasing levels of physician burnout nationwide, it’s clear that disrupted physicians can’t deliver the best patient care. ”
The Institute for Augmented Intelligence in Medicine will initially include the following centers:
- Center for Computational Imaging and Signal Analytics in Medicine
- Center for Deep Phenotyping and Precision Therapeutics
- Center for Advanced Molecular Analysis
- Center for Biomedical Informatics and Data Science
- Center for Medical Education in Data Science and Digital Health
- Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities
Membership in the institute is open to faculty from all Northwestern University schools. Those interested can visit the institute website and fill out a request for more information.