If you think you've got a bad case of the travel bug, get this: Dr. John Halamka travels 400,000 miles a year. Halamka is chief information officer at Harvard's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a professor at Harvard Medical School, and a practicing emergency physician. In a talk at Singularity University's Exponential Medicine last week, Halamka shared what he sees as the biggest healthcare problems the world is facing, and the most promising technological solutions from a systems perspective. "In traveling 400,000 miles you get to see lots of different cultures and lots of different people," he said. "And the problems are really the same all over the world. Maybe the cultural context is different or the infrastructure is different, but the problems are very similar."
Two big Boston institutions, General Electric Co. and Partners HealthCare, on Wednesday launched an ambitious initiative to employ artificial intelligence to improve medical care. The decade-long effort will include clinical and technology experts at the Partners-owned Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women's hospitals working alongside engineers and developers at GE. The companies will begin by building software to help doctors more quickly and accurately interpret medical images, but over time, they also want to create applications for genomics, population health, and other areas of medicine. Artificial intelligence -- also called machine learning technology -- refers to computers that can sift through vast amounts of data to recognize patterns, becoming more accurate over time. Executives from GE, one of the nation's largest corporations, and Partners, Massachusetts' biggest nonprofit hospital network, said such technology has the potential to help care providers do their jobs more efficiently so that patients receive more accurate diagnoses and better treatments.