Government Health IT and the Promise of AI

Lloyd McCoy Jr.

By Lloyd McCoy, Market Intelligence Manager

The government’s health agencies want you to know that they need your help proving out use cases and applications for artificial intelligence and machine learning. That was one of the main takeaways from last week’s Federal Healthcare Day where the Department of Veterans Affairs and National Institutes of Health convened with industry partners to talk about advancements and opportunities.

Artificial intelligence adoption in government has the potential to spread faster than in the private sector. Because of the government’s scale, spend (about $1 billion will be spent on health-related artificial intelligence research this year) and breadth, a success story in one agency can spread rapidly to other areas.

There are three main areas where government hopes to take advantage of artificial intelligence:

I. Managing the Data Tsunami

‘Data tsunami’ is a term you may have heard before within the context of big data. The healthcare sector is probably a close second to the military in terms of data generation and consumption. NIH funds hundreds of thousands of researchers, each with their unique computing and storage needs. Making sense of large data sets in hybrid cloud environments is a massive undertaking and NIH wants to leverage AI so that the data and insights are accessible, interoperable and reusable. Given the fluid nature of both the research and clinical side of health, it’s hard to model what the demand is going to be. If you’re in the analytics space, note that the health agencies want to partner with vendors who are in it for the long haul. Show that you can handle uncertainty in storage and data consumption.

II. Innovation and Discovery

With advancements in AI, we are seeing innovation in imaging data for cancer and heart disease detection, applying machine learning to interpreting genomic data, identifying patterns in electronic health records, etc. These advancements open to clinical researchers’ discoveries that would have remained hidden. Government-funded research in health AI will focus in the areas of neuroscience, clinical diagnostics for patients and precision medicine as well.

III. Data Harmonization

Both the VA and NIH have dispersed clinics, hospitals and research sites that add to the complexity of funneling data into insights that advance learning and medicine. Being able to distribute data, analytics capabilities and applications closer to the end users (researchers, clinicians, etc.) will be key.

They are looking to AI solutions to:

  • Facilitate multi-site collaboration
  • Make it easier to manage modern research workflows
  • Augment identity and access management
  • Facilitate advances in data harmonization (unstructured and structured data, inconsistent formatting, natural language processing)

NIH and the VA want industry to help them figure out how technology can be applied to save and enhance lives. To that end, they are looking for ways to use AI to help it better manage data (think performance, reliability, and scalability), deal with computation requirements, and facilitate collaboration.

The future is bright for those selling AI into the government health agencies as related funding will only increase. Conversations with key decision makers in the NIH and VA should incorporate how your analytic and machine learning solutions can address the aforementioned priorities, while showing that you’ve taken into account their privacy and regulatory environments.


What to keep on top of government IT trends in emerging technologies? Subscribe to immixGroup’s Government Sales Insider blog.

Expand your reach and uncover new opportunities in federal health care. Find out how immixGroup’s Market Intelligence team can help drive your business.

About Lloyd McCoy Jr.
Lloyd McCoy is the manager of immixGroup’s Market Intelligence organization, leveraging market analysis and purchasing trends to help immixGroup suppliers and partners shorten their sales cycles. He has a M.S. in Strategic Intelligence from the National Intelligence University, a M.A. in Public Policy and a B.A. in Political Science, both from the University of Maryland. Prior to joining immixGroup, Lloyd was a senior analyst in the Intelligence Community for eight years, serving in a variety of senior analytic and project management positions in the U.S. and abroad.

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