A crowd of researchers, administrators, clinicians and visitors from industry and academia packed Bornstein Amphitheater on Nov. 7 to kick off this year’s Discover Brigham and listen to a special keynote address. Betsy Nabel, MD, president of Brigham Health, offered welcome remarks, setting a tone of excitement for the day. “Go Brigham discovery!” she told the audience.

“Discover Brigham is our opportunity to showcase the amazing, innovative medical research going on here and celebrate our research community,” said Nabel. “My charge to you is three-fold: learn something new, meet someone new, and spark an idea.”

David Bates, MD, chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine, introduced Kyu Rhee, MD, MPP. Rhee is the vice president and chief health officer of IBM Corporation and IBM Watson Health. Rhee’s talk, “Inventing and Predicting a New Era of Health with AI and Techquity,” focused on opportunities to address issues around health equity through technology. Rhee noted that many of the biggest challenges in medicine, including limited time to keep up with advances in the field and find data in electronic health records (EHRs), are big data challenges that can be in  part addressed through the right applications of the right technologies.

Rhee also discussed how some of the most basic terms in health care, such as “patients” and “waiting rooms” speak to the dynamic of inequities in the system. “The groups that need the time and financial resources the most are often not at the top of mind for stakeholders,” said Rhee.

The Brigham and IBM are at the beginning of a 10 year relationship with projects focused on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to improve the use of EHRs and to address public health issues such as patient safety and health equity.

Rhee also addressed the often-asked question of whether AI will replace physicians.

“AI won’t replace doctors and health care professionals but doctors and professionals who don’t use AI will be replaced,” said Rhee.

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