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Dr. Rubin stands provides welcome remarks at the CDI2 conference, with a "welcome" sign on the screen behind his head

UC Health's executive vice president, David Rubin, M.D., MSCE, helps welcome attendees to the second day of the CDI2 Data to Action: Driving Healthcare Innovation conference at UC Irvine.

The spirit of partnership in shaping how data is being used to accelerate health care breakthroughs and benefit patients was a key theme at this year’s Healthcare Innovation conference hosted by the University of California Health’s Center for Data-driven Insights and Innovation (CDI2). 

UC Irvine’s Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Steve Goldstein, M.D., Ph.D, opened the conference with a key statement that was referenced throughout the next two days:

“If we don’t use data to see patients in a different way, we are not doing our job,” said Dr. Goldstein.

During the conference, UC Health patients joined UC experts and industry thought leaders for discussions on topics at the intersection of data science and health care. 

Presenters and panelists shared the latest news on their work in using data to improve patient outcomes. References to the latest scientific publications showed significant progress. At the same time, transparent – and sometimes tough – conversations during the conference revealed the critical work that lies ahead in a burgeoning field. Discussions highlighted that the quality of data, tools and interpretation of the results will hinge on continued cross-functional collaboration that is even broader than in the past – with the need for partnerships that ensure all stakeholders, especially patients, families and community groups, are included as equals in shaping this future of data-driven health care.

Importance of using real world data to drive patient outcomes

Shamim Nemati, Ph.D., UC San Diego Health’s director of predictive health analytics, shared news about using data to create an AI-powered tool to predict sepsis, which can reduce the risk of dying from this serious medical condition by 17 percent (Nature, 2024).

The audience learned of the many stakeholders and elements that drove success, from data infrastructure to end-user and patient education. Nemati emphasized that team members needed to approach their work in different ways, essentially generating an entirely new workflow.

“AI implementation is a lot more than just an algorithm. It's about…the data infrastructure, the user interface, end user education….It's [also] about the clinical protocols that you put in place [as well as] post implementation monitoring to ensure that the systems maintain the quality over time,” said Dr. Nemati.

Christopher Longhurst, M.D., M.S., chief clinical and innovation officer at UC San Diego Health and executive director of the Jacobs Center for Health Innovation, stressed that algorithms lack significance without tangible clinical results, and that local monitoring is critical to advancing health through AI. He also shared thoughts about the clinical impact of the UC San Diego Health sepsis AI algorithm and the first-ever EHR-based AI-drafted patient responses that included a disclosure to patients to ensure transparency and trust (JAMA, 2024). He and other conference participants discussed the criticality of adequately testing algorithms to deeply understand if they are having the impact that patients, families and all stakeholders care about.

Positive research partnerships with sponsors support the many elements of real-world evidence efforts. Vivek Rudrapatna, MD, Ph.D., co-director of UCSF’s Center for Real-World Evidence, defined a “partnerships playbook” or model by which clinical investigators could streamline contracting pathways to obtain funding. Standardizing the way in which researchers build and foster relationships with sponsors decreases the time and cost of real-world evidence projects and provides transparency to how patient data exploration improves care and health outcomes.

Patients, family and community groups as members of the team

The conference also brought the patient to center stage, as a team member, alongside of health care professionals, with an emphasis on the importance of inclusion and representation. 

Several patients were included in the conference as panelists, discussing their perspectives on data sharing , including what they know about how their data are used other than for clinical care and how to build public trust. Conversations throughout the conference emphasized the importance of educating patients about the use of data in health care.  Unless patients understand the data and how conclusions were drawn, there is little hope that they can be an integral part of decisions around how their data are used.

Educating patients begins early on, for example in the development and testing of AI algorithms. Data sets used to train algorithms should have sufficient representation of the population, and conference participants further recognized the importance of transparency in communicating with patients regarding the impact of AI tools on their care. 

5 takeaways from the conference

  1. Advancements in data use: The University of California Health's progress in using real world data is driving advancements in life-saving treatments, outcomes and physician-patient interactions.
  2. Inclusive approaches and governance: To ensure scientific validity and relevance, data collection and processing must ensure diversity, especially among underrepresented groups. 
  3. Partnerships for innovation: Collaborations between academic health centers, industry, patient advocates and engaged communities are essential for driving innovation. 
  4. Implementation - career and teamwork: Understanding the role of data and collaboration within health care is essential for success for both individual careers and organizational impact. Embracing a team-oriented mindset across all functions will drive progress as individuals from various backgrounds deepen their understanding of data and technology in health care.
  5. Spotlight on UC's unique resources: The University possesses unique resources that are pivotal for advancing the field. Conference attendees shared information about UC-wide resources, including the UC Health Data Warehouse, the UCSF Information Commons, the UCSF Center for Real World Evidence, as well as a UC experts in specialties such as law, regulatory, privacy ethics. Further, experts from UC Health’s academic medical centers presented recent advances from each location. 

UC Health Executive Vice President David Rubin, M.D., MSCE helped wrap up the conference by telling attendees,

“The work that you're doing to bring the power of data into our research labs and to the bedsides of our patients represents the future of medicine, as we all seek to relieve burden for our clinicians and improve engagement with the patients and families we are serving.”

About University of California Health

University of California Health comprises six academic health centers, 20 health professional schools, a Global Health Institute and systemwide services that improve the health of patients and the University’s students, faculty and employees. All of UC’s hospitals are ranked among the best in California and its medical schools and health professional schools are nationally ranked in their respective areas.