Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as a major player in the realm of health care, promising to completely transform­ its delivery. With AI’s remarkable ability to analyze data, learn, solve problems, and make decisions, it has the potential to enhance patient care, improve outcomes, and foster innovation in the health care industry. In this blog post, we will delve into the guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding the application and development of AI in the healthcare sector. There is more guidance than one might think.

To address this transformative power of AI and machine learning, the Office of the Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer (OCAIO) has outlined a strategic approach to prioritize the application and development of AI across various HHS mission areas. OCAIO will focus on two major themes in AI adoption:

  1. Pioneering Health and Human Services AI Innovation: HHS will prioritize the application and development of AI and machine learning. This includes regulating and overseeing the use of AI in the healthcare industry and ensuring ethical and responsible implementation. Additionally, HHS aims to fund programs, grants, and research that leverage AI-based solutions to deliver improved outcomes for patients and healthcare providers.
  2. Collaborating and Responding to AI-Driven Approaches within the Health Ecosystem: Recognizing the dynamic nature of the healthcare landscape, HHS will collaborate with external partners, including academia, the private sector, and state, local, tribal, and territorial governments. HHS also aims to identify gaps and unmet needs in health and scientific areas that would benefit from government involvement and AI application.

To ensure effective governance and execution of these initiatives, HHS has established the AI Council and AI Community of Practice. The HHS AI Council plays a pivotal role in supporting AI governance, strategy execution, and the development of strategic AI priorities across the enterprise. Its objectives include effectively communicating and championing HHS’ AI vision and ambition, as well as governing and executing the implementation of the HHS enterprise AI strategy. By aligning efforts and fostering collaboration, the AI Council aims to expand the use of AI throughout the Department.

The AI Council will focus on four key areas to drive the adoption and innovation of AI within the healthcare sector:

  1. Cultivate an AI-ready workforce and foster an AI culture: HHS recognizes the importance of equipping healthcare professionals with the necessary skills to effectively leverage AI. By fostering a robust and responsible AI culture, HHS aims to create an environment that embraces technological advancements and encourages the integration of AI into healthcare practices.
  1. Promote health AI innovation and research and development (R&D): HHS is dedicated to promoting innovation in the healthcare industry through AI. By encouraging R&D, HHS aims to drive advancements in AI technology and its application in healthcare settings.
  1. Democratize foundational AI tools and resources: HHS aims to make foundational AI tools and resources accessible to all stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem. By democratizing these tools, HHS seeks to empower healthcare providers, researchers, and other stakeholders to leverage AI for improved patient care and outcomes.
  1. Foster trustworthy AI use and development: Trustworthiness is a critical aspect of AI implementation in healthcare. HHS has committed to promoting the responsible and ethical use of AI, ensuring patient privacy, data security, and transparency.

HHS has also published a useful online portal collecting AI Regulations and Executive Orders. Subsequent blog posts will explore the AI Regulations and Executive Orders.

The HHS guidance underscores the significant role of AI in the health care industry and its unwavering commitment to harnessing its potential. By prioritizing the application and development of AI, collaborating with external stakeholders, and establishing effective governance structures, HHS aims to drive innovation, improve patient care, and enhance health outcomes. As AI continues to evolve, its integration into the vast and complex health care ecosystem holds immense promise for the future of health care. Health care organizations, including hospital systems, physician groups, laboratories, and other organizations in the health care industry, should consider following HHS’s guidance to embrace AI in a responsible, ethical, and legal manner.

Click here to learn more about the HHS AI approach.