Miller School Executive Dean Discusses “Tectonic Shift” AI Brings to Health Care

Article Summary
  • Miller School Executive Dean for Education Dr. Latha Chandran spoke about the changes artificial intelligence (AI) is bringing to medicine at the “2024 Business of Health Care Conference.”
  • Dr. Chandran joined University of Miami President Julio Frenk and industry executives to analyze the positives and negatives of AI’s influence on health care.
  • Keynote speaker Dr. Rubin Pillay presented his vision for perfect health care, which he envisioned as available to all and environmentally sustainable.

Health care executives including Latha Chandran, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s executive dean for education, shared their insights on the “tectonic shift” occurring in the industry at the “2024 Business of Health Care Conference,” hosted by the University of Miami Patti and Allan Herbert Business School on Feb. 16.

In the opening session, University President Julio Frenk, Rony Abovitz, president and CEO of SynthBee and Dr. Chandran, founding chair of the Miller School of Medicine’s Department of Medical Education, explored AI’s impact on the industry and medical education.

Miller School of Medicine Executive Dean for Education Latha Chandran, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A.
Executive Dean for Education Latha Chandran, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., spoke about the “tectonic shift” AI is imposing on medicine.

“It’s possibly paradoxical that IT [information technology] in general and AI in particular may launch a new era of humanism in medicine,” said Frenk, a former health secretary of Mexico.

To his point, Frenk referenced the “dehumanizing impact” of the first technological revolutions that inserted machines and then, increasingly, electronic screens to view in the middle of the doctor or nurse provider and patient relationship.

“This second revolution in health care may actually usher in a new era of humanism as we find complementarities to the technology that can uniquely bring in that human element,” Frenk noted.

AI: “A Tectonic Shift” in Medicine

Dr. Chandran echoed this potential and suggested that the industry and medical education are positioned for a “tectonic shift.”

“As technology develops and allows us the space when you are with a patient to not worry about documenting things because there are companies that can do that well, it allows us a space to actually do the healing process better, to communicate in a more humane and empathic way with the patient and understand their wants,” said Dr. Chandran, who also expressed her concerns for AI’s impact on the industry workforce.

Abovitz urged medical students to develop emotional intelligence and “fighter pilot life skills” that empower them to function as the conductor or orchestrator of multiple complex pieces of technology that work in concert with AI systems, robots, and imaging, among others.

He likewise highlighted AI’s potential to diminish divides and to normalize and democratize access to the very best quality care.

“Not everyone can afford to go to the best doctor or to have a private doctor take care of you—and that’s unfair,” Abovitz said. “What AI will do is say: ‘That won’t matter anymore. I need a decent person who can have some emotional intelligence, but the backend of technology and even some of the front end will give you better answers than the top private doctor.’ The cost to compute what that private doctor does is going to drop so dramatically that it’s going to make the availability of world-class care very possible.”

The Quest for Perfect Health Care

Keynote speaker Dr. Rubin Pillay highlighted the spiraling number of home-use digital diagnostic tools that empower patients to aid their own care. In his “Journey to Zero” presentation, Pillay charted a course to achieve “perfect health care, accessible to every person, delivered at zero cost and with no harm in an environmentally sustainable way.

“Smaller, better, cheaper, and faster—that’s the principle that’s going to drive our initiative and help make the pivot from sick care to health care,” said Pillay, executive director of the Marnix E. Heersink Institute of Biomedical Innovation at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “It’s going to take a healthy dose of unreasonableness or unreasonable thinking to disrupt the status quo of health care delivery.”

Industry executives spoke about AI’s impact on health care.

In the second panel, an array of industry specialists examined AI’s opportunities and challenges, while highlighting the technology’s capacity to relieve administrative stress and to better manage complex business applications. 

“We’re seeing multiple high-tech, well-financed organizations coming in to help navigate the complexity of some of the business processes and decision-making that operate at the intersection of the regulatory policy and environmental and administration that we have to do,” noted Dr. Halee Fischer-Wright, president and CEO of the Medical Group Management Association.

“We are on the cusp of a revolution in health care,” she added. “My colleagues have mentioned some of the potential clinical applications, and I think succinctly the highest and best potential of AI is to allow us to put the joy back into the practice of medicine and actually care back into health care.”

Health Care Equity

Panelists weighed the impact of elections later this year on the industry. Dr. Yolanda Lawson, president of the National Medical Association that supports Black patients and professionals in the industry, said that she has prioritized educating policymakers so that they can make well-informed decisions on issues relating to health care and speaking in terms of “fair and just” systems.

“Health equity is under attack and it’s at every level—medical education, licensing boards, even to the degree of scholarships,” said Lawson.

A final panel of the day furthered the topic of how AI and other innovations are transforming the health care industry from an entrepreneurial perspective.   

Sal Lo, co-founder and CEO of Jorie AI Advanced Automation, highlighted the importance of being willing to fail as part of a “transition to transformation” approach.

“The roadblock to AI waiting for data will never be completed. We’re in a crisis mode more potential for human death in the ways we deliver care today,” said Lo. “[As innovators] we have to take some risks ourselves. We will fail again and again, but without failure you will not succeed.”

Steven Ullmann, professor and director of the business school’s Center for Health Management and Policy and a major organizer for the conference, offered special thanks to presenting sponsor Florida Blue and highlighted the importance of the conference, this year in its 13th year, to convene so many pan-industry specialists who shared their insights with the 500 in-person attendees and thousands more who viewed the livestream.  

James Lindgren, executive director of revenue cycle optimization at the University of Miami Health System, urged students entering the medical profession to embrace a learning-for-life approach.

“It’s a long enterprise. Everything you learned will be new and changed, and you have to be—not only willing—but able to evolve with it,” Lindgren said. “So don’t assume you’re going to learn everything now. Be comfortable understanding that learning is forever.”

Tags: AI, artificial intelligence, Dr. Latha Chandran