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HHS Unveils Strategy for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare –

By Samantha McGrail

January 29, 2021 – HHS recently released an artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare strategy to focus on areas intended to encourage and enable comfort and fluency with AI technology and potential AI adoption. 

“Together with its partners in academia, industry and government, HHS will leverage AI to solve previously unsolvable problems by continuing to lead advances in the health and wellbeing of the American people, responding to the use of AI across the health and human services ecosystem, and scaling trustworthy AI adoption across the Department,” the organization said. 

“AI capabilities can solve complex mission challenges and AI-enabled insights can inform efficient programmatic and business decisions, while removing barriers to AI innovation,” it continued. 

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HHS will lead health and human services AI innovation by identifying opportunities for mission-driven AI solutions and mitigating risks appropriately.

First, HHS will regulate and oversee the use of AI in healthcare, which includes delivery, payments, medical device software, medical products and food, and privacy to ensure compliance, safety, and effectiveness.

Oftentimes, AI is used to decrease regulatory burdens and streamline processes that boost advancements in the health and wellbeing of Americans. Therefore, HHS will also develop standards that inform policy and guidance for safe AI use and adaptability. 

HHS will also fund programs, grants, and research that leverage AI-based solutions to deliver outcomes, which will support various projects that invest in research and deliver services. 

The organization will encourage grant recipients to prioritize its efforts and focus on programs that realize its AI mission impact, including advancing biomedicine, predictive analytics, and cognitive technologies through AI-enabled insights.

The second aspect of HHS’ strategic approach is to partner and respond to AI-driven approaches within the health ecosystem to advance common interest across a shared mission of administering essential human services and health programs. 

The internal, external, academic, and governmental partnerships will work to prioritize needs and opportunities for AI advancements that allow for better outcomes in research, clinical practice, public health, social services, disease prevention, and wellness. 

HHS will also position itself to identify gaps and unmet needs in health and scientific areas that would benefit from government involvement and AI application. 

The third initiative in the strategy details the HHS AI Council’s established support in AI governance, strategy execution, and development of strategic AI prioritize across the enterprise. 

Specifically, the AI Council will communicate the department’s AI visions and execute the implementation of the enterprise AI strategy and key strategic priorities.

To ensure progress in AI priorities, the Council will develop and leverage performance plans, implementation timelines, and key performance indicators (KPIs) to drive accountability, HHS explained. 

Additionally, the AI Council will invest in four key focus areas to support its mission, including developing an AI-ready workforce, encouraging health AI innovation and research and development, democratizing foundational AI tools, and promoting trustworthy AI development. 

Also, in support of these objectives, the Council will actively cultivate partnerships, provide governance support, and sponsor a community of practice.

“AI will be critical to the Department in achieving its mission and vision, as well as positioning HHS to address the health and human services challenges of today and tomorrow,” HHS said. 

“Ultimately, this strategy is the first step towards transforming HHS into an AI fueled enterprise. This strategy lays the foundation upon which the AI Council can use to drive change across the Department by encouraging the application of AI to promote advances in the sciences, public health, and social services—improving the quality of life for all Americans,” the department continued.