July 14, 2022 Episode 044

Mayo’s John Halamka on AI, ML and the Government’s Role in Digital Health’s Future

President of the Mayo Clinic Platform, Dr. John Halamka, digs deep into healthcare IT – from the education he got dumpster diving in LA, to the future of AI including its impact, regulation and responsible use.

Mayo’s John Halamka on AI, ML and the Government’s Role in Digital Health’s Future

As a self-described latchkey kid growing up in Los Angeles, Dr. John Halamka says riding his bike to Raytheon, Hughes Aircraft and Aerojet – and pulling integrated circuits and manuals from their dumpsters to learn how they worked – lured him into the world of technology. Not long after, he started developing his first healthcare-related IT system, which he sold to UCLA when he was 14.

Those experiences kicked-off a career where Dr. Halamka has worked at the intersection of technology and healthcare for five decades. Trained in emergency medicine and medical informatics, Dr. Halamka has served in many roles, including chief information officer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for more than 20 years, where he oversaw digital health relationships with industry, academia, and governments worldwide. As the International Healthcare Innovation Professor at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Halamka helped the George W. Bush administration, Obama administration, and governments around the world plan their health care information strategies.

In his current role as president of the Mayo Clinic Platform, Dr. Halamka leads a portfolio of platform businesses focused on transforming health care by leveraging artificial intelligence, connected health care devices and a network of trusted partners.

In this episode of Healthcare is Hard, Dr. Halamka shares his perspective on the evolution of digital health and where the industry is headed through an in-depth conversation with Keith Figlioli. The topics they cover include:

  • Mayo’s platform play. As president of the Mayo Clinic Platform, Dr. Halamka spends time explaining the organization’s view about what constitutes a platform and why it’s important. He describes it as an ecosystem that’s built to foster innovation at an extraordinarily fast pace. He contrasts the approach to other healthcare organizations where building collaboration is hard, and discusses how the Mayo Clinic Platform makes it easy for innovators to find mentors, access millions of de-identified patient records to test new technology, tap into thousands of clinical experts to address a problem, and so much more.
  • The arc of healthcare IT. Dr. Halamka explains innovation in digital health – especially through the implementation of Meaningful Use over the past decade – with a quote from Winston Churchill: “Americans will always do the right thing. After they’ve tried everything else.” While it took a long time to arrive, he does not lament the journey and expresses optimism for the current state and future of digital health.
  • Guardrails for AI and ML. Much like Google Cloud’s Aashima Gupta described in a past Healthcare is Hard episode, Dr. Halamka talks about the need for a standard set of metrics to measure the performance of AI models in healthcare. He views his career as seven or eight distinct periods of achievement including events like standardizing vocabularies or moving to APIs, and believes the next period will be about creating the guidelines, guardrails and transparency for machine learning in healthcare, and using it ubiquitously across the globe.
  • Convergence of AI and ML models. Dr. Halamka says he is seeing an amazing array of startup activity creating models for niche purposes on multimodal data. He says there will be a huge number of model providers and talks about the importance of platform players being able to bring them together. He says data liquidity and a huge ecosystem of players coming together will be revolutionary in the ability for people to navigate their health care.

To hear Dr. Halamka and Keith talk about these topics and more, listen to this episode of Healthcare is Hard: A Podcast for Insiders.