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Harnessing Data Science and AI in Healthcare: From Policy to Practice

Harnessing Data Science and AI in Healthcare: From Policy to Practice

Giles Colclough Grail Dorling Farhad Riahi Saira Ghafur Aziz Sheikh

This paper argues for the need to harness specialized health experts to meet the need of emerging digitized software and technologies.

Executive Summary

Health system leaders across the world share common goals: to prevent, cure and manage illness; to deliver the best possible citizen and patient experience; and to do so in a financially sustainable way.

Over the past century, health system leaders have progressed toward these goals, aided by advances in science and technology: new vaccines, medicines and surgical techniques; technologies, such as telehealthcare, which can dramatically improve access; and analytics to better measure the costs and variations of care provision. These factors contribute to improvements in life expectancy across the globe.

This report by the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) has brought together some of the world’s leading experts in health policy, data science and healthcare reform. We argue that health system leaders today can steer the next wave of progress in healthcare by harnessing advances in data science to generate valuable insights from the large, complex data sets accruing in health systems. Data science is already transforming other major sectors of human activity – from transportation to life sciences and financial services. In healthcare, these technological advances will make services more accessible, effective and efficient. They will help health practitioners diagnose people earlier, treat them faster and more effectively, and provide new opportunities for patient engagement, empowerment and self-care. In short, they will help achieve the triple aim of healthcare reform. Beyond personalizing and optimizing care delivery, data science also offers the promise of supporting health policy decision-making, better integration of healthcare with other sectors, and substantial time and efficiency savings in undertaking research and driving quality improvement initiatives.

However, healthcare is substantially behind many other industries in implementing data science – in one estimate, for example, the US has gained no more than 10–20 percent of the total opportunity.