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.

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The $6B Health IT Market: Exploring Opportunities Beyond EHRs

Christopher Wiedemann_headshot-65 x 85by Chris Wiedemann, Senior Analyst

Health IT in the federal government represents a $6 billion market.

Let that number sink in. It may seem high, but recent guidance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) indicate that “health IT” as a concept means much more than just EHRs. According to the report, there are three broad categories of health IT:

  • Administrative health IT functions: This includes billing and claims processing, practice and inventory management, and scheduling.
  • Health management IT functions: This category includes health information and data exchange, data capture and encounter documentation, electronic access to clinical results, clinical decision support, knowledge management, and patient identification.
  • Medical device health IT functions: Examples include computer aided detection/diagnostic software, radiation treatment planning, and robotic surgical planning and control software – in other words, devices actively used in medical treatments.

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