Novant Health launches Institute of Innovation & Artificial Intelligence

Add Novant Health to the growing list of health systems that have opened institutes dedicated to artificial intelligence.

The health system, based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, launched the Novant Health Institute of Innovation & Artificial Intelligence (AI), which will use AI to enhance personalized patient care. The institute will focus on the advanced technologies required to provide highly personalized care and accelerated solutions with actionable data and insights for preventive prediction, diagnosis and treatment to Novant Health’s patients, the health system said.

Novant Health consists of 640 care locations, including 15 hospitals and hundreds of outpatient facilities and physician clinics servicing patients in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

To drive this work, Novant will partner with the health system's physicians as well as technology companies, research organizations, universities and other healthcare organizations to leverage the work already in place within Novant Health’s digital products and services team. 

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"The institute will help Novant Health develop both clinical and operational solutions that streamline patient care across our health care system," Eric Eskioglu, M.D., executive vice president and chief medical officer for Novant Health, said in a statement.

Some Novant Health team members will rotate in and out of the institute as subject matter experts on an as-needed basis while others may have full-time assignments there, the health system said. 

A Novant Health spokeswoman said the Institute will not have a separate building but will entail "a set of processes and constructs that allow team members from all parts of Novant Health to explore and experiment with emerging AI-based capabilities, acting as a distributed team, for the benefit of our patients and communities."

“It’s an exciting time to be in health care because of the proliferation of AI-based solutions that anticipate patient needs and improve the overall experience,” said Angela Yochem, executive vice president and chief digital and tech officer for Novant Health. “As we build our competencies in AI and machine learning, we want our team members, business partners and providers to have a place where they can present their ideas to improve the delivery of care.”

The institute is led jointly by Eskioglu and Yochem.

RELATED: Accenture: AI, blockchain will have 'transformational' impact in next 3 years

A recent Accenture survey of healthcare executives found that the majority of healthcare organizations are experimenting with at least one of these emerging technologies: distributed ledgers, artificial intelligence, extended reality or quantum computing. And 41% of healthcare executives believe AI will have the greatest impact on their organization over the short term.

Two-thirds of healthcare executives believe the combination of these technologies will have a "transformational" or "extensive" impact on their organizations in the next three years. 

Novant joins a growing list of health systems and universities launching centers dedicated to AI and innovation. Mount Sinai Health System and the Hasso Plattner Institute in Germany have launched a new $15 million digital health center, based at Mount Sinai in New York City, with the aim of accelerating the use of AI and other emerging technologies in clinical care.

In March, Cleveland Clinic announced the opening of its new Center for Clinical Artificial Intelligence with a focus on developing innovative clinical applications of AI and leveraging machine-learning technology in hopes of improving healthcare delivery in areas such as diagnostics, disease prediction and treatment planning, the organization said.

Banner Health, headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, announced in May a new initiative called the Banner Innovation Group focused on bringing the health system's innovation efforts all under one umbrella. Some of its projects include an artificial intelligence triage tool and a chatbot for the emergency department.

Stony Brook University also recently opened the Institute for AI-Driven Discovery and Innovation to advance AI research across multiple disciplines, including healthcare.