Project INSPIRE: The How of Digital Transformation

DNA strand illustration with technology theme
Article Summary
  • The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine hosted Project INSPIRE, the second in a series of technology-oriented workshops.
  • Leaders from innovative companies like Amazon Web Services talked about how technology will change and improve health care and medical research.
  • Presenters noted that advanced technology like AI needs to be implemented with care and caution to realize its full potential.

Clinicians, researchers and educators at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine took another step on the journey to digital and innovation transformation at an April 13 workshop for Project INSPIRE (Innovating Next-generation Solutions for Precision care, Innovation, Research and Education).

They were joined by leaders from Amazon Web Services (AWS) and other innovative digital companies at the day-long session at the Lois Pope Life Center.

Dean Henri Ford speaking from the podium at Project INSPIRE
Dean Henri Ford said technology has the potential to reshape the landscape of medicine.

“Digital tools are reshaping the landscape of medicine,” said Henri R. Ford, M.D., M.H.A., dean and chief academic officer of the Miller School. “Through our visionary initiative, we are poised to harness cutting-edge technologies to achieve better outcomes and address health disparities.”

While the first Project INSPIRE workshop in February focused on the “why,” the second was all about the “how,” according to project leader Azizi Seixas, Ph.D., interim chair, Department of Informatics and Health Data Science and associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Miller School.

About 75 Miller School participants took part in the Saturday retreat, which included morning presentations exploring how big data, generative artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and other digital applications can transform the delivery of health care, support research and improve medical education.

Dr. Azizi Seixas with Ferdinand Zizi at the Project INSPIRE retreat.
Dr. Seixas (left) with Dr. Ferdinand Zizi, director of the Miller School’s Department of Informatics and Health Data Science, at Project INSPIRE.

In the afternoon, participants took part in collaborative sessions to develop their ideas and set the stage for upcoming Project INSPIRE workshops this summer and fall.

“Together, we are building a sense of community and trust, as well as a robust action plan,” said Dr. Seixas, who is also director of The Media and Innovation Lab and associate director of the Center for Translational Sleep and Circadian Sciences. “You should all be proud of building something that can outlast us all.”

Dr. Seixas pointed to the importance of the partnerships with AWS in driving innovation at the Miller School.

“We are excited about Project INSPIRE and look forward to moving the ball forward together,” said Michael Curry, AWS’ southeast leader of academic medicine and higher education.

The April 13 workshop also highlighted several potential collaborations to advance clinical care and medical research.

“Project INSPIRE is a cutting-edge health tech initiative,” said Oliver Kharraz, M.D., CEO and founder, Zocdoc, a New York-based physician and dentist appointment platform. “We support innovation, giving power to the patient in our antiquated health system.”

Dr. Oliver Kharraz speaking with a microphone at Project INSPIRE
Dr. Oliver Kharraz’s Zocdoc platform is increasing the efficiency of patient appointment scheduling.

Dr. Kharraz outlined Zocdoc’s growth in a conversation with Dr. Seixas on using technology to enhance patient experience. Since its launch in 2007, Zocdoc has evolved its business model and expanded its service to multiple cities.

“Doctors lose time and revenue when patients cancel or don’t show up,” he said. “We surface that hidden inventory, making it easier for patients to find the right doctor and book an appointment. To make Zocdoc work, we had to integrate with multiple scheduling systems and office practices. So we learned that it’s easy to have a big idea, but you need to put a lot of small things into place to make it work.”

Now, a physician practice can sign up for Zocdoc in the morning and be live in the afternoon with no change in workflows.

“Patients can set up an appointment in minutes, without making multiple time-consuming phone calls, and insurers like the ability of our service to address care gaps in the population,” Dr. Kharraz said.

To support scientific and clinical research, Snowflake offers a cloud-based data platform with tightly focused, large learning models (LLMs), according to MacLean Ryan, a Snowflake account executive, and Robert Latham, the organization’s technical sales manager, state and local government.

“Snowflake is an enabler for the INSPIRE community,” said Ryan. “You can see what research has been done on a topic and write a draft hypothesis, shortening the process of writing a grant application.”

Unlike public tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, data used by Snowflake’s models stays within a secure boundary. 

“You can control your research environment, and the data doesn’t have to move anywhere,” added Latham. 

Dr. Seixas noted that University researchers can use HARMONI, a resource he offers through his department. The platform promises to revolutionize knowledge generation, data management and curation using generative AI, opening new avenues for research and discovery.

“We want to help you do your work more effectively and efficiently,” he said.

In another morning session, Yauheni Solad, M.D., co-founder of Qualified Health, an AI safety and monitoring company, pointed to the importance of governance when using digital tools.

“Because gen-AI is not a magic bullet, you need to know what you are getting when you use these applications,” he said. “We provide the infrastructure to de-risk and deploy generative AI applications.”

Dr. Solad said LLMs trained on the Internet have biases and may provide incorrect clinical information, such as drawing conclusions from outdated reference guidelines.

“You need to add contextual data, optimize the output for specific use cases and ensure you are not doing anything against your governance policy,” he said. “Remember that deployment of gen-AI is just the start. The real work begins after that.”

Ashwini Davison smiling and speaking from the podium at Project INSPIRE
Dr. Ashwini Davison encouraged Project INSPIRE attendees to “think big…and learn together.”

Ashwini Davison, M.D., executive health care advisor at AWS, looked at the opportunities to accelerate AI in health care and biomedical research.

“Project INSPIRE is an important collaboration for us,” she said.

The session highlighted the assets developed by the Department of Informatics and Health Data Science. Tailored for the University of Miami community, these resources promise to enhance research, education and clinical care through innovative, AI-driven solutions.

“We want to think big, support your work, and learn together,” said Dr. Davison. “We are thrilled to see what will happen, and the possibilities are endless.”

Tags: Amazon Web Services, Dr. Azizi Seixas, innovation, Project INSPIRE, technology