President’s Perspective

AI will help find and match patients for clinical trials

New artificial intelligence platform will transform sorting process from months to minutes


William F. McKeon is the president and CEO of the Texas Medical Center. William F. McKeon, President and CEO of the Texas Medical Center (photo: Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle)
By William F. McKeon | April 25, 2019

It’s hard to go even a single day without hearing about the promise of artificial intelligence (AI), which is increasingly deployed in a broad spectrum of products and services. To many, the term stimulates excitement and curiosity, while others worry about AI’s impact on humanity. We are quickly realizing the benefits that AI can provide to humans.

In cars, for example, cameras, sensors and software can identify objects quickly approaching the vehicle and apply the brakes faster and more efficiently than a human could—all while avoiding distraction. Retailers have implemented AI to predict with astonishing accuracy what we will buy before we actually place an order to ensure speedy delivery. Almost every commercial flight is landed by AI software that simultaneously interprets thousands of sensors in real time and makes the necessary adjustments.

In medicine, artificial intelligence is making a difference in many ways. For example, when machines review MRI images to identify abnormalities like tumors, they can draw on a library of millions of other images to reach a conclusion. Often, machines can perform this task more quickly and with more accuracy than a human ever could. But that’s just the start.

At the Texas Medical Center, we conduct more research on our campus than any other place on Earth. The challenge we face—and that clinical researchers around the world face, too—is the arduous process of finding and matching patients for clinical trials. This process requires researchers to manually sift through patient records. As a result, it typically takes months to find just a few patients for each trial.

Here at the TMC, we are beginning to implement an AI platform that will transform this sorting process from months and years to minutes and seconds. This could provide life-saving opportunities for our patients. It could help draw more industry to Texas. And eventually, it will establish the Texas Medical Center as not only the largest medical city in the world—but also the most efficient.

 

William F. McKeon
President and Chief Executive OFficer
Texas Medical Center




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