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Gianrico Farrugia, M.D., leads one of the nation’s leading hospitals, Mayo Clinic, which cares for more than 1.4 million people each year. We are thrilled that he will be joining us at the 2023 Summit, being held April 19-21 at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel and Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort. Prior to next month’s Summit, Dr. Farrugia shared his perspective on how Mayo Clinic is solving structural problems within our health care system and how AI is being utilized to truly transform patient care.

Which sector issues are your greatest priorities in the next three to five years?

Our health care system is currently facing many significant challenges, and although we made a great deal of progress during the pandemic in areas like digital health, many of the existing challenges are endemic to our pipeline model of care. At Mayo Clinic, we believe the only way to truly solve these structural problems is to transform health care from the current pipeline paradigm to a platform model of care that is more resilient, innovative, accessible, scalable and collaborative for patients, providers, and sector-wide partners alike.

This is by far the highest priority. We are doing so through our Bold. Forward. plan, which has three interconnected objectives: Cure, Connect, and Transform. Cure is dedicated to accelerating discovery for more cures for chronic and acute disease and accelerating the translation and delivery of those cures into patient care. Connect is focused on connecting people with data to create new knowledge—this means making our system more accessible for patients, but also easier for providers, researchers, and other partners to collaborate to create scalable, end-to-end solutions. Transform means creating a new future for health care focused on a scalable, AI-enabled care transformation platform model.

We’ve created the Mayo Clinic Platform – what we believe is the first true large-scale platform in health care – and, with our partners, we’re using AI-powered digital tools to transform health care at Mayo Clinic and for our partners. We hope that Bold. Forward. and, with it, our Mayo Clinic Platform will serve as a blueprint for health care transformation overall. In the next three-to-five years, our priority is to continue to grow and scale our platform model, and also to inspire others across the health care sector to see that platform transformation is not only possible, it is essential.

For CEOs looking toward the future, what should they be thinking about now to drive impactful change?

As leaders, we have to not judge what we need to do and what we spend time on by difficulty in execution, or potential derailers, but by the potential to meaningfully impact current and future people in ways that are not possible today. One example in health care is AI. Incremental change will not be enough in the health care sector and AI offers the opportunity to transform. We must drive change in health care by running toward AI. Yes, there are many unresolved issues and many real issues such as bias in AI, but our philosophy should be to be part of the solution to these issues rather than to skirt them. We are at a tipping point for AI and digital tools that can – and in many cases already are – providing hope and healing for patients and help for providers. At Mayo Clinic, we’ve deployed AI tools into our patient practice that can detect early heart disease from a simple electrocardiogram, improve pancreatic cancer detection, and assist in finding cancerous polyps during colonoscopies, among others. For our physicians and other providers, we’ve also seen how AI can eliminate or reduce many routine tasks and alleviate administrative burden. As we harness more and more interoperable health data, scalable, AI-powered tools will only become more transformational for health care, and as leaders we have to put in place the physical and digital infrastructure to make these tools a reality.

While we do this, we need to address the legitimate concerns about bias and trustworthiness for AI in health care. We cannot ask patients or providers to rely on an AI-powered tool that is a “black box.” We need transparency and equity for health care AI, which is why Mayo helped create the Coalition for Health AI, which is a group of leading tech and health care practitioners who are creating standards for trust and transparency for AI in health care. We also have to make sure that new tools are not only fit for function, but that they fit seamlessly into current workflow. We cannot expect our providers to become experts in data science, so we have to develop digital tools as end-to-end solutions that are truly scalable. By understanding the workflow of health care workers, by not staying away from hard problems, by not letting real but solvable issues stop us, we can have immediate and long-lasting impact.

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