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What Can Health Care Learn from Self-Driving Cars?

Self-driving cars are intended to make peoples’ lives better. Technology can provide the same benefit in health care by improving experiences for patients and providers, said Kimberly Powell, vice president of health care at NVIDIA.

Powell recently spoke to an audience at The Johns Hopkins Hospital as part of the “Leading Change: Perspectives from Outside of Medicine Conversation Series,” hosted by the Johns Hopkins Department of Radiology.

One of the benefits of self-driving cars, said Powell, is not having to drive or park. If people didn’t have to concentrate on driving, they could do other things while on the road. Likewise, technology could perform some of the burdensome or time-consuming tasks that physicians currently perform, and allow more time to consult with patients.

NVIDIA has spent the last seven years developing artificial intelligence (AI) for autonomous vehicles. Before that, the company developed major computer processing capabilities, including graphics processing units and parallel computing.

Some of the applications Powell sees in health care include diagnostic devices, image analysis, pathology analysis, and image segmentation and classification. MRI machines “are largely dumb and blind,” she said. AI in an MRI machine could potentially detect and advise on a patient’s position within the machine, or perform tasks based on voice commands.

Such AI is already a part of peoples’ everyday lives, through voice recognition in mobile phones and Amazon Alexa, face recognition on Facebook (the platform automatically asks if users would like to tag a face with a specific name), Netflix’s movie recommendations and more.

Powell urged the audience to think about the problems in health care that AI could tackle. “There is an incredible group of researchers and scientists looking at AI,” she said, “and they want a problem in medicine to solve—rather than just Netflix recommendations.”

Upcoming speakers in the “Leading Change: Perspectives from Outside of Medicine Conversation Series” include Reed Jobs from Emerson Collective on April 17 and Sara Furber from IEX Group Inc. on May 16. 

Learn more by watching AI-Driven Health Care from MIT Technology Review. 

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