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AI and Healthcare

A conversation with Dr. John Patrick about how AI is transforming the healthcare space

Dr. John R. Patrick is President of Attitude LLC and former Vice President for Internet Technology at IBM, where he worked for thirty-five years. During his IBM career, John was Vice President of Marketing for the launch of the IBM ThinkPad brand. One of the leading Internet visionaries, John is a well-known international lecturer and has been quoted frequently in the global media. Business 2.0 named him one of The 25 Most Intriguing Minds of the New Economy.

Dr. Patrick along with his wife, Joanne raised his family in Ridgefield and lived in town for over 40 years. Although he now resides between Danbury and Palm Coast, Florida, he continues to deliver lectures in town and has ties to many people and non-profit organizations that he and his wife have championed over the years. We are thrilled to bring you his thoughts on AI and the impact it will have on our collective health & wellness. 

CL: You have been described as an ‘Internet Visionary’ who predicted and contributed to the great, widespread impact the Internet has on our daily lives. You believe the impact of AI will be even more significant. Can you elaborate on this? 

JRP:  Artificial intelligence (AI) is the most transformative technology we have seen in decades, perhaps ever. It is already having a major impact on our lives, and this will grow in the months and years ahead. The technology is complicated but, at a high level, we can think of it as the ability of machines to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as learning, reasoning, and problem-solving. AI systems are trained on large amounts of data from the Internet, which they use to learn patterns, recognize faces, make predictions, and generate text and images.

AI has existed since the 1950s, but it is now growing exponentially. The recent explosion of growth is due to faster computer chips, a faster and more reliable Internet, and thousands of computer science graduates flocking to work on AI, which they view as the future. Thousands of tech startups are attracting billions of dollars from venture capitalists to take the technology to the next level.

CL: You spoke about gene sequencing and how this is rapidly transforming how patients are being treated. How is AI improving patient outcomes through gene sequencing?

JRP:  AI is improving patient outcomes through gene sequencing in several ways: AI can analyze large amounts of genetic data to identify patterns and make predictions with remarkable speed and accuracy. This can help to identify genetic variations that may be associated with disease, even if they are rare or complex and lead to more accurate diagnoses, earlier detection of disease, and more personalized treatment plans. For example, AI can be used to analyze genetic data to identify patients who are likely to respond to a particular drug. This can help to ensure patients are receiving the most effective treatment for their individual needs.

In summary, AI is making it possible to develop personalized medicine, which is the tailoring of medical treatment to the individual characteristics of each patient. This is done by using AI to analyze genetic data and other patient information to identify the best treatment plan for each patient. Personalized medicine can lead to more effective treatments and better patient outcomes.

With regard to cancer, AI is being used to develop new therapies targeted to the specific genetic mutations of each patient's tumor. This is leading to more effective treatments and better survival rates for patients with cancer. In the past, treatment for cancer was based on the type of cancer. For example, patients with breast cancer were treated with a “breast cancer drug.” The more modern approach now possible is to select the treatment based on the genetics of the patient’s tumor. As AI continues to develop, we can expect to see even more breakthroughs in the use of gene sequencing to improve patient care.

CL: In a recent lecture you delivered in town, you mentioned that in some cases AI can detect cancer with greater accuracy than radiologists. Can you elaborate and explain advances in cancer detection and other areas where AI is improving diagnosis?

JRP:  It’s all about data. For example, an experienced radiologist reviews an average of 2,000 to 4,000 digital mammograms per year. Over time, they accumulate an impressive amount of experience. A radiology AI can have the benefit of reviewing millions of cases. Studies have shown that AI can detect conditions which a human may not be able to see.

CL: How is AI likely to impact the pharmaceutical industry? Will we have greater choices of medications? Will cost containment be more attainable?

JRP: AI will have a significant impact on every industry. In the pharmaceutical industry, AI will help discover many new drugs. There will be greater choices of medications. As for cost containment, unfortunately, the barrier is Congress. The pharmaceutical lobby donates millions of dollars directly to the reelection campaign funds.

CL: You are a member of the Nuvance Health Digital Patient Experience. How will our local patient experiences improve as a result of the implementation of AI?

JRP: Nuvance Health has made significant strides in improving the digital patient experience. Patients can now schedule an appointment online. A few days before the appointment, the patient receives an email which allows the patient to check in. The patient can upload his or her insurance cards. For subsequent appointments, the check-in process will remember the information which was entered for the first appointment. Goodbye clipboards.

CL: You are a big supporter of Ann’s Place? How did you get involved and what would you like the Ridgefield Community to know about this organization?

JRP: I live close by to Ann’s Place and have been impressed for years with the great work they do. Ann's Place is a non-profit organization which provides emotional and social support services to people with cancer and their loved ones and caregivers. They serve people from throughout the region.I am proud to be a member of the board.

How can residents follow you to keep up with your insights as it pertains to advances in healthcare and AI?

JRP: If you visit johnpatrick.com, you can find just about everything I have ever said or done. I have written seven books. One you may find interesting is Robot Attitude: How Robots and Artificial Intelligence Will Make Our Lives Better. Every Saturday morning, I release a blog post which is read by more than 1,000 people. If you are interested, you can sign up at johnpatrick.com.

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 "AI is the most transformative technology seen in decades, perhaps ever."

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