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The powerful promise of AI in healthcare

Jennifer O'Brien | Oct. 10, 2017
May have 35 such uses cases.

CIO veteran and industry consultant, Geoff Wenborn, sees enormous opportunity for artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare - identifying 35 use cases alone for robotics and AI at places like UnitingCare Queensland.

Wenborn, who provides IT transformation consulting to several organisations including UnitingCare Queensland and Starlight Children’s Foundation Australia (and built some proof of concepts), said the sky’s the limit in terms of use case possibilities.

At UnitingCare, he was the interim CIO charged with doing transformation, and is currently the chair of the Starlight IT Advisory Board.

He said AI makes sense in hospitals, aged care, community services and retirement living. He sees huge growth opportunities - across many markets - and is excited by the application of AI technology to enable different outcomes. Just looking at healthcare alone, AI and robotics will help society take care of an aging population and allow much longer independence.

“The application of automation and artificial intelligence to assist capability to support a diagnosis and prevention cure is very exciting in this sector. I call healthtech the new black - like fintech was a few years ago. But fintech is so done and healthtech is the next big thing.”



Indeed, AI is a game-changer, creating so many uses cases in so many different industries from healthcare, energy and utilities, financial services and manufacturing, and we’re only just scratching the surface, Wenborn noted.

From SIRI to self-driving cars, AI is gaining momentum. While science fiction portrays AI as robots with human-like characteristics, AI can be anything from Google’s search algorithms to IBM’s Watson to autonomous weapons.

At the nonprofit organisation, Starlight - founded in 1982 to bring joy and comfort for hospitalised kids and their families - Wenborn said he’s been working as the CTO over the last three months, helping the organisation “connect the dots” in terms of its technology readiness and possible use cases of AI engagements and souping up automation.

“There’s an all-round experience that robotics can enable. It is not just automating whatever’s manual. There are a lot of things that are manual in an underinvested technology environment.

“But it is then, ‘how can you then create delightful experiences for sick children through the application of these technologies and how can you apply AI algorithms and models to data about people who donate? Because as a not-for-profit, understanding behaviours is absolutely critical.”

At Starlight, he’s focused on two potential AI applications: a chatbot interface, and revenue optimisation (with a view on fundraising).

Regarding revenue optimisation, he said it involves asking: “What information do you have about individuals that donate and how can you connect it to understanding what their proclivities are?, while understanding the joy they get out of supporting sick children and how you can build on that.”


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