Maintaining healthy systems — both technological and biological — requires clean, clear data. During a June 25 panel discussion at the AI World Government Conference in Washington, D.C., experts discussed how artificial intelligence and data sharing could fundamentally change how people treat and prevent disease.

“[It’s] a way of thinking about how health information flows across the country and the first step is getting it in digital format," Paula Braun, entrepreneur-in-residence at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said.

Using AI to collect and analyze mortality data, Braun was able to create coherent information that made systemwide improvements possible.

Data and AI is also being used to track the effects of policy changes in Medicare and Medicaid and how those changes impact program spending, program utilization and the health of beneficiaries, said Alison Oelschlaeger, director and chief data officer, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Oelschlaeger also tracks how CMS is sharing data to researchers, providers, and the patients themselves.

As certain medical services moved from hospitals to community-based care, data had to be collected and shared with public officials on where electricity would be essential to deliver medical care in the case of an emergency, said Kristen Finne, director, HHS emPOWER program and senior analysis, Office of Emergency Management & Medical Operations, ASPR.

“We realized how we can actually take federal health data, using machine learning and data analytics, and bring it to our public health authorities,” Finne said.

Finne said through this process they have been able to locate all 4.1 million beneficiaries so that in an emergency situation public health officials can provide them with the assistance they may need.

To spur these changes, however, there needs to be investment in new technologies, said Lisa Bari, senior technical adviser, Value-Based Transformation Initiative, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

To create incentives, Bari said, they ran an innovation contest — the CMS AI Health Outcomes Challenge — with a $1.6 million prize. The goal is to get people to use CMS data to help predict health outcomes and address how to create new ways to pay for and deliver care that allows for providers and suppliers to invest in new technology.

Using these innovations is changing the current health care system, Bari said.

“The way that we surveil and treat disease in our country is becoming more and more autonomous small parts that are paying attention to signals that would be very difficult for humans to decipher and having information streams that are delivered to individuals in a way that they can readily interpret it and take action on it."

However, these innovations must be accompanied by a change in perspective as well, Bari said.

“We are in the early days of value-based care. We just don’t have enough adoption and until we can break free from the fee-for-service structure where everyone who develops new technology to sell to providers, suppliers, the government, or anyone is looking for a billing code ... Until we get away from that mentality and that business model we are going to have a hard time scaling new technology.”

Kelsey Reichmann is a general assignment editorial fellow supporting Defense News, Fifth Domain, C4ISRNET and Federal Times. She attended California State University.

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