On Friday, October 26, HIMSS submitted a letter to the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Request for Information on Update to the 2016 National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan is support of the Strategic Plan and the federal government’s efforts to improve the coordination of artificial intelligence (AI) as well as ensure continued U.S. leadership in AI. HIMSS notes that the priorities developed in 2016 are still very relevant today and provide an actionable framework for identifying the scientific and technological needs in AI that will allow the government to maximize the impact of research and development investments in these technologies.
Federal healthcare policy is currently developing several regulatory actions to facilitate more data exchange and ensure healthcare entities are appropriately sharing and consuming data to help deliver better outcomes for patients and transform the healthcare system. As noted in the Strategic Plan, the depth, quality and accuracy of the information to be exchanged is vitally important and significantly affects AI performance. HIMSS recommends that the Strategic Plan add language on making strategic investments in two areas critical to the long-term success of AI technologies: healthcare data exchange by aligning government policies with one of the most significant needs of AI advancement—increasing the volume of high-quality AI data available for research and development purposes; and a workforce appropriately trained to advance these technologies.
HIMSS encourages NSF to partner with its Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) colleagues to create an AI use case that capitalizes on how the technology can be used to address clinician burden issues. This active partnership with NSF to leverage the advancements from collective AI initiatives can have a dramatic impact on HHS and the healthcare community’s efforts.
In the letter, HIMSS offers its commitment to helping our nation’s AI enterprise succeed in the endeavor of working to assure that these systems will operate safely and securely, in a controlled, well-defined and well-understood manner, and HIMSS wants to contribute the experiences of the health IT community to help determine the path forward.
Finally in the letter, as HIMSS has long championed the nurturing of a stronger health IT workforce, it would like to build on those efforts to reinforce the idea of building a stronger community of AI researchers, data scientists and informaticists to help the entire field grow. The development of the health IT workforce as well as the broader research infrastructure has to be prioritized for the impact each can bring to AI technologies, as well as healthcare delivery improvements and efforts to promote better, more efficient care delivery. HIMSS recommends that NSF work with HHS to consider providing greater training and career development opportunities to support a highly trained health IT workforce that would include education on AI technologies, with the option of deeper learning on AI for those seeking careers in the developer or vendor space.