Hartford HealthCare Opens Center for AI Innovation

Feb. 20, 2024
Connecticut-based health systems says it is assembling an ecosystem of world-class AI partners including MIT, the University of Oxford and Google Cloud

Connecticut-based Hartford HealthCare has unveiled a Center for AI Innovation in Healthcare. 

The health system has a broad reach. It includes two tertiary-level teaching hospitals, an acute-care community teaching hospital, an acute-care hospital and trauma center, three community hospitals, a behavioral health network, a multispecialty physician group, a clinical care organization, a regional home care system, an array of senior care services, a mobile neighborhood health program and a physical therapy and rehabilitation network.

This makes Hartford HealthCare the ideal organization to support the research and deployment of innovative approaches, said President and CEO Jeffrey A. Flaks, in a statement. "As we transform healthcare, we are taking new approaches to innovation. This center is poised to unlock the full potential of AI, ensuring that every algorithm is not just intelligent, but empathetic and ethical. We are committed to pioneering safe, effective and affordable solutions that revolutionize patient care while advancing clinicians' expertise."

The new center has five foundational elements:
Collaboration and partnerships: Assembling an ecosystem of world-class AI partners including MIT, the University of Oxford and Google Cloud.
Research and innovation: Conducting groundbreaking AI research centered on healthcare applications and developing algorithms for safe real-world implementation.
Trustworthiness: Verifying and balancing innovation opportunities against potential risks of integrating AI into clinical practice through rigorous standards and governance.
Education: Equipping clinical and operational colleagues with the knowledge to leverage AI in a safe, trustworthy manner, and instruct others in its effective use.
Invention: Testing and developing new AI-enabled products that safely and responsibly drive improved health outcomes.

"AI stands poised to profoundly reshape healthcare delivery, impacting access, affordability, equity and excellence," says Barry Stein, M.D., HHC's chief clinical innovation officer and leader of the center, in a statement. "Hartford HealthCare is uniquely positioned to continue defining the next frontier of AI in healthcare by unlocking its full potential in a trustworthy and responsible way.”

As an example of the type of work Hartford HealthCare has already done in this space, Stein described a collaboration with Prof. Dimitris Bertsimas, associate dean of analytics at MIT-Sloan, through which Hartford HealthCare Innovation developed a startup company, Holistic Hospital Optimization (H2O). H2O uses AI to help healthcare providers optimize the flow of patients and other hospital operations, return patients home more quickly and safely, optimize staff time spent with patients, and free up space and services during peak demand.

The health system has also embarked on research initiatives, many of which have translated into clinical and operational practice, including:

• Predicting COVID-19-related events
• Predicting hospital length of stay
• Predicting patient deterioration
• Predicting transcatheter aortic valve surgery outcomes
• Predicting secondary stroke events
• Predicting joint replacement surgery outcomes
• Optimizing nurse scheduling
• Optimizing operating room efficiency

"Hartford HealthCare's Center for AI Innovation in Healthcare is a beacon of hope and progress, illuminating the path toward a future where AI empowers healthcare professionals, enhances patient experiences and ultimately saves lives," said Ajay Kumar, M.D., HHC's chief clinical officer, in a statement. "This is not merely an initiative. It is a declaration of intent — a commitment to lead the charge in shaping a future where healthcare thrives on the transformative power of AI.”

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