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Hartford HealthCare Launches Center for AI Innovation in Healthcare

February 15, 2024

Seeking to harness the transformative power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to safely enhance patient care, Hartford HealthCare has unveiled its Center for AI Innovation in Healthcare. The Center is the first of its kind in New England, and one of only a few in the United States.

The Center, a culmination of ongoing collaborations with prestigious institutions, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, formalizes HHC’s dedication to AI advancements.

“AI stands poised to profoundly reshape healthcare delivery, impacting access, affordability, equity and excellence,” says Barry Stein, MD, HHC’s chief clinical innovation officer and leader of the Center. “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.”

Hartford HealthCare offers the ideal infrastructure to support the research and deployment of innovative approaches, says President and CEO Jeffrey A. Flaks.

“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,” says Flaks. “We are committed to pioneering safe, effective and affordable solutions that revolutionize patient care while advancing clinicians’ expertise.”

Five key elements

The Center for AI Innovation in Healthcare 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.

Strong track record

“Years of fostering an innovation mindset have accelerated Hartford HealthCare’s portfolio of AI-related activities and capabilities,” Dr. Stein says.

As an example, he mentions 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,” says Ajay Kumar, MD, HHC’s chief clinical officer. “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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