Hansa Bhargava, Chief Medical Officer at Medscape Education shares her thoughts on translational research, the role of AI in addressing DEI, and its potential to tackle the mental health crisis.

What initially sparked your interest in medicine and subsequently, digital health and data science?

I was always very intrigued by science and technology. In fact, I was originally headed to the University of Waterloo for engineering, but I changed direction to medicine because I felt that health is so essential in a person’s life. My initial interest in technology as a youth naturally led me to what really excites me today: digital health and data, and how that can affect delivery of optimal healthcare.

There is a lot of exciting research in the field of medical AI, but translating that into clinical practice tends to be a slow process. What do you see as the key barriers to translation?

There are many barriers, some of the most important being awareness and adaptation. I do think we can overcome these with pragmatic education for clinicians in medical and professional schools, as well as in continuing education too. Increased understanding about how AI can improve quality of care will help adaptation, thereby improving patient care.

Diversity, equity and inclusion are rightly at the forefront of discussions around healthcare right now. What role can AI play here?

It is so important for every person to receive optimal care regardless of background. AI as well as digital health can use data, metrics to be more precise for race, gender, etc. and ultimately to affect quality and access to care.

In what areas do you see the next big advances in health AI?

I’m really excited about the potential of AI to make an impact on our “second pandemic” – the mental health crisis. To use data to predict outcomes and treatments for issues such as anxiety and depression can have great significance for many, including the younger population.

What most concerns you about the future of AI in medicine?

I believe we stand at a unique place in history with AI positioned to make a real difference. However, we must be rigorous in ensuring there is diversity and depth of data to ensure accuracy in outcomes. Additionally, innovation must be accessible for ALL of us – and equitable to every walk of life. We can help to ensure this by being thoughtful and intentional as we move forward in these exciting times!

Dr Bhargava is a keynote speaker at AIMed’s Global Summit, taking place live and in person in Laguna Niguel, CA on January 18-20, 2022. Book your place now.