Proceeding with Caution: the Do’s and Don’ts of AI in Healthcare with Eric Hendrickson

In this episode of Friends of Project Healthcare

Eric Hendrickson, Chief Technology Officer of Provisions Group, joined host Eric Thrailkill to discuss the potential of AI to revolutionize healthcare systems when properly implemented. Eric’s early experience with IT gives him a unique lens that emphasizes the importance of thoughtful integration technologies that consider the factors determining how AI will change systems in order to maximize its positive impact.

“If you really haven’t thought about data security or governance or consolidation, it’s possible you not only might get the wrong answer, you may expose some people who never should have had access to that data. And so there’s power in a lot of these solutions,” Eric shared. “But it doesn’t need to be a scary, mysterious thing.” 

On April 25th, Provisions Group will be sponsoring a webinar to help organizations understand perspective on what AI is and how to make sense of it and keep it grounded, alongside industry experts. “There’s a lot of language in AI around grounding, right? We’re going to change that term a little bit to mean grounded in your business strategy, because so much is going on right now around the shiny object syndrome where people are feeling pressure to sort of adopt AI.”

Eric’s journey working with technology began as early as the age of 9, when he started to write software, then landing his first job at the age of 14. His educational journey at Liberty University coincided with the online education boom, where he witnessed the university’s growth from 5,000 to 114,000 students, 90,000 of those online. 

Eric played a crucial role in building the infrastructure that supported this massive shift to online learning as market demand increased with technological advances. Implementing these advances into healthcare education Liberty University, Eric was able to experience first-hand what it means to build strong systems based on transparency and forward thinking.

“We had such a hyper consolidated approach, cost didn’t hide, inefficiencies didn’t hide. So if we were doing something wrong or slow or inefficient, it was obvious and we could make a hard decision to cut it or do more of it or whatever it was.” 

Eric draws parallels between healthcare and higher education, as both industries have historically been centered around providers and institutions, and the advent of digital and virtual technologies has democratized access to services, increasing accessibility and flexibility. These principals played a large role in Eric’s eventual role at Provisions Group. Initially a staffing company, Provisions Group evolved to include professional services, responding to the growing demand for IT and AI expertise in various industries, including healthcare.

“We just decided to fully vest our ability to find talent and not just offer it as talent, but offer it as professional services as well.” Eric explains how Provisions group now offers everything from project-based work to retained services. “And we now offer close to 50 services across 12 disciplines, 250 people on that team.”

Eric explains how today, healthcare systems are facing disruption from AI systems as companies are unsure of how to best implement these new technologies. Eric also outlined how there must be an educated approach to using certain tools.

“You don’t necessarily need the scientists, but you do need probably a developer or somebody who at least understands the platform well enough to use it. And then on top of that, at the highest level.”

He described it as a three layer cake. “AI is science, AI is a platform at the highest level, and you’ve got AI as a feature,” he described. “It may not be a heavy science or even a heavy cost bearing item, it just requires a strategy to drive utilization, to think creatively, to think about data in a unique way.”

Eric also addresses the importance of frameworks in regulating the use of AI in healthcare data technology. “Data initiatives have to come through your compliance goals in general. So for example, in healthcare, it’s an easy thing to say, well, we use a HIPAA compliant EMR, so of course we’re HIPAA compliant.” 

But as Eric expands, “Organizations are really starting to have to grapple with what does HIPAA say? What does the code of federal regulations say? What controls do we need to have? Because again, part of what’s happening is the systems are unlocking the data in a way that you can’t just default.”

Eric also provides guidance around the emerging role of the Chief AI Officer and the challenges such a position might face in aligning AI initiatives with broader organizational goals and compliance requirements.

“You might be a chief data scientist or a chief data officer, a chief AI officer. You might be highly credentialed and therefore highly qualified, but your organization may not need AI as science at all yet,” Eric states. “I think there’s kind of two struggles there. One is defining what success is going to look like and if they can do that, great. Obviously the first step towards success is defining it.”

Eric is excited to address additional concerns with implementing AI in the upcoming webinars. “CEOs and boards are feeling the pressure to create an AI strategy immediately and now. And so sometimes you’ll run off and imagine that’s a thing without really stopping and going, well, what do we need? What is our business strategy? How can we ground that strategy in the AI strategy, in our business strategy, and then move through this proliferation of options to come up with a solution that will help us move forward at the right? Because the right one might be the highest costing complexity, but knowing that with confidence is really what the webinar will be about.”

To learn more about the upcoming webinars, visit Provisions Group

About Eric Eric Hendrickson has been building data and technology solutions his whole life. Through the subsequent 20 years in data center, cloud, data integration, enterprise/data architecture, systems design, process engineering, artificial intelligence, information security, and organizational leadership, Eric has amassed a noteworthy history of projects, tech stacks, use cases, and architectures deployed at high scale organizations.

Today, as CTO of Provisions Group, he is passionate about helping organizations navigate the dizzying array of cloud and data solutions whose capabilities are only matched by their hype and high promises. In a world of massive capabilities and information exchange at social media speeds, good decisions can make the difference between AI-scale innovation and AI-era confusion.  Eric loves when he can help companies win at work.

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