How to effectively wield emerging tech

More and more emerging technologies, including ChatGPT, metaverse, and natural language processing-based tools, have sprung up in the healthcare market over recent years, and they can either be a boon or bane for health facilities looking to get their hands on them.   

During the panel session, “The Double-Edged Sword of Emerging Technology,” Veneeth Purushotaman, CIO of Aster DM Healthcare, Dr Tamara Sunbul, medical director of Clinical Informatics at Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare, and Arvind Sivaramakrishnan,

CIO of Karkinos Healthcare, shared outcomes and lessons from their latest emerging tech implementations.

Recently, Aster, first through the Medcare Women & Children Hospital, has entered the metaverse. 

Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare has used AI to improve the speed of diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy. It also has leveraged cognitive AI and computing models to reduce the risk of sepsis by 5%.

“AI in general is one of the proven technologies that have come to surface in this day and age,” Dr Sunbul noted.

Meanwhile, clinicians at Karkinos Healthcare have been using NLP to help with translating and transcribing their notes automatically. 


Before getting on the hype train for these new technologies, Aster’s Purushotaman said it is foremostly important to consider their use case.

“The use case has to ring a bell with your stakeholders, particularly your clinicians. Don’t try to throw toys at them if they don’t want to use them,” he said, citing an instance where one of their clinicians did not want to use an automatic speech-to-text tool for taking notes.

“There are various reasons why a doctor may not want to use a particular technology. Let’s not force it.”

Another major consideration is scalability. Per Karkinos’s Sivaramakrishnan, the lack of this is what led to the failure of IBM Watson and its eventual sale to Francisco Partners.

“There are technologies that are doing well, have great potential, and have definitely surpassed our generation in terms of intellectual supremacy. But they are not living up to the purpose that it was destined to and definitely not living up to scalability [requirements].”

“Healthcare is about scalability. We are a planet of [around] 5 billion people now already. So that’s the aspect that’s kind of missing,” he said.

For Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare, the biggest question before adopting emerging tech, particularly AI, is if they are going to borrow or purchase it or create their own version in-house.

“Because of the large amount of data that’s required for these AI algorithms to work, most of the time it makes more sense to actually go out and buy something that’s already been done and proven,” Dr Sunbul said.

Finally, the decision to adopt new tech cannot be made without discussing its cost. 

“Ensure that you have all these things sorted with your business stakeholders before you get on it. Otherwise, you’ll have a bunch of projects laying out there, completed half [proof of concepts], and end up not going live,” Purushotaman advised.

“Irrespective of where we are in the world, we are all working towards making healthcare affordable to the scale of our economies – making it as cheap as possible without [sacrificing] quality and efficiency,” Sivaramakrishnan added.

Generative AI 

Generative AI has been a hot topic in recent months. Given AI’s continuous advancement, health leaders collectively agreed on having its use regulated.

“There is no international governance that is actually controlling this. Even at the local level,” Dr Sunbul shared.

“Even if the FDA clears its usage, it does not guarantee its accuracy,” she added, rhetorically asking who will be responsible when AI fails. 

While Sivaramakrishnan stood with Dr Sunbul’s call for AI regulation, he also emphasised that AI must be “used for a purpose.”

“This is not to replace the medical professional; this is bringing the art and science of medicine to actually deliver the best to the patient everywhere, any time.”

“Generative AI and all these cognitive technologies are nothing but assistance to the experts to ensure that they are able to excel,” he added.

Addressing challenges, cybersecurity risks

In implementing emerging tech in the hospital, a crucial design recipe is cybersecurity and privacy.

“We need to have it [in] the DNA of our organisation’s culture, allowing us to become more technology friendly and to adopt more technology that caters to higher degrees of services,” said Sivaramakrishnan.

IT teams must also remain on the lookout for bad actors trying to break into the organisation’s system at times of vulnerability, Dr Sunbul reminded.

“The same way we are leveraging these technologies for whatever purpose, the bad people on the other side are also leveraging these technologies… We just have to be vigilant of that and make sure we are one step ahead of them.” 

Having a strong foundation and ensuring the safety of the EMR and other basic hospital IT systems is a no-brainer for Purushotaman. 

“While you all look at the new age technologies, none of us can forget the basics… You can’t jump in and try all of these new age technologies without having the core technologies in place.”

He maintained that while trying new things, safeguards must be set in place. 

“The most important thing in safeguarding is building awareness and ensuring that your internal stakeholders are educated,” he added.

Meanwhile, Dr Subul referred to sustainability as another success factor that usually comes as an afterthought in tech implementations.

“When we implement these technologies, we don’t really think about sustainability; usually, it is something we think about afterwards,” Dr Sunbul said, advising that implementations must have sustainability by design.

Overall, the health leaders assured that there is nothing to be scared about trying out emerging tech in the market. 

“We need to be out there,” said Purushotaman, “[but] please involve your stakeholders [in the decision-making], manage expectations well, and ensure [that you can have a] go live.”

“Digital [transformation] is not magic. It doesn’t happen to us; we have to make it happen. So unless we put the effort to actually get our organisations digital, it’s not going to happen,” Sivaramakrishnan said, sharing his takeaway.

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This post originally appeared on TechToday.