The 7 Cs of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

January 23, 2018

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Anthony Chang, MD, decided to go back to school around the time that IBM’s Watson was winning Jeopardy!. Already an accomplished paediatric cardiologist, he recognized how computing was beginning to revolutionize healthcare, and he went back to get a master's degree in data science and artificial intelligence (AI).

He compared sitting in a classroom with aspiring data scientists a third his age to being an average ice skater who has to practice with the Russian national hockey team every day. But Chang got his degree, and the chief intelligence and innovation officer of the Children’s Hospital of Orange County has emerged as a leading voice on AI in healthcare. Today, he gave the keynote speech at the AI in Healthcare Summit in Boston, Massachusetts, from the unique perspective of a man who is both data scientist and clinician.

To Chang, there are 7 important words that the healthcare industry must keep in mind to make AI work for it. All begin with the letter C.

First, stakeholders must remember that we are in the Cambrian period of AI evolution, referring to the period in evolution where a lot of organisms developed in a short period of time. Some survived and continued to evolve, and some are now extinct.

Healthcare should approach the hype cycle with caution. Chang understands and respects the potential of deep learning, for example, but that isn’t the be-all-end-all of AI. He’s glad, he said, that deep learning is beginning to receive some backlash: It brings science back down to earth. There has also been an important shift in the media, no longer representing AI as robots, but rather an ethereal resource.
But on the flipside of deflating hype, there is also a matter of convincing physician colleagues of the value of adopting AI in their practice. For some specialties, like oncology and radiology, the capabilities are already evident and in use, but others will likely need to be convinced to drive innovation and adoption.

Chang said that it was key to keep in mind that using AI in healthcare is complicated—“Like building the Great Wall of China out of Legos,” he said—and that patience and close attention will be needed for proper implementation.

This is important because the technology is evolving and becoming more cognitive. The second wave of healthcare AI, he said, was deep learning, but now the movement is towards cognitive architecture, or finding ways to make a computer act more like a human mind. AI in medicine should be like a nervous system, a powerful brain connected to a vast array of internet-of-things “nerve endings” that shoot signals back and forth.

Whether between machine and machine, human and machine, or human and human, there must collaboration. He pointed to the example of the machine that repeatedly beat a human being in the ancient game of Go by using unconventional moves that most human players would never think of. By the 4th game, he said, the human player had begun to replicate those moves.

 “Human to human collaboration is still the most important thing for AI in healthcare,” he said, however. Data scientists and physicians must work together day-in and day-out.

The final word he gave was conviction: physicians and data scientists must have a real, internal motivation to effectively advance AI and improve patient outcomes. For Chang, that’s personal: 2 young daughters with a complex health conditions.

“They’re a daily reminder for me of how important AI in healthcare is going to be,” he said.

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Dr. Anthony C. Chang, Paediatric Cardiology


Internationally-recognized as an expert in the field of pediatric cardiology, Dr. Chang leads pediatric heart teams all over the world. He was one of the founding members of the Asia-Pacific Pediatric Cardiac Society (APPCS) and will be initiating the foundation arm of the society at the bequest of the board. Dr. Chang has been voted Physician of Excellence by the Orange County Medical Association and also selected as one of America’s Top Doctors, Top Pediatricians, and Best Cardiologists by several organizations.


A world-renown leader in pediatric cardiology innovation, Dr. Chang is a member of the grant review committee for pediatric research at the National Institutes of Health. Respected in his field, he is a member the board of directors for the American Heart Association. Providing leadership in education, he has served with the faculty of UCLA School of Public Health (eMPH program) and has taught global health for UCLA’s eMPH. He also teaches pediatric cardiology to cardiology fellows and holds a volunteer faculty appointment at the UCLA School of Medicine.


A prolific author, Dr. Chang is the chief editor of the textbook Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care and the past president-elect of the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Society (PCICS). He is the chief editor of the textbook Heart Failure in Children and Young Adults. He is an associate editor of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine and is on the editorial board of cardiology in the Young and Congenital Heart Today. He is a regular reviewer for Circulation, Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, Critical Care Medicine, and numerous other journals. He publishes and lectures widely on topics of pediatric cardiac intensive care, heart failure, sudden cardiac death, adult congenital heart disease, and other aspects of congenital heart disease. He has served as program director for numerous large international conferences and symposia.


With more that 20 years of experience, Dr. Chang’s responsibilities have included serving as a staff cardiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital with a position in the cardiac intensive care unit where he was later promoted to assistant professor at Harvard School of Medicine. He was later the medical director of the cardiac intensive care programs at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and Miami Children’s Hospital. He is also formerly the medical director of pediatric cardiac intensive care service and chief of critical care cardiology at Texas Children’s Hospital and a tenured associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine.


Dedicated to clinical excellence, Dr. Chang is board certified in paediatric cardiology. Prior to joining CHOC Children’s, Dr. Chang attended medical school at Georgetown University Medical School in Washington, D.C. He completed his residency training in pediatrics at Children’’s Hospital National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and served his fellowship in cardiology at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Chang has a master’s degree in healthcare administration from University of Miami School of Business, from which he graduated with the McGaw Prize for academic excellence. He has a master’s degree in public health from UCLA, from which he graduated with the Dean’s Award for academic excellence. He is enrolled in the master’s in biomedical informatics (MS-BMI) program at Stanford University.


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