It’s been over six years since IBM’s Watson amazed all of us on Jeopardy, but it has yet to deliver similar breakthroughs in healthcare. The headlines in last week’s Forbes article read, “MD Anderson Benches IBM Watson In Setback For Artificial Intelligence In Medicine.” Is it really a setback for the entire industry or not? Health Catalyst’s EVP for Product Development, Dale Sanders, believes that the challenges are unique to IBM’s machine learning strategy in healthcare. If they adjust that strategy and better manage expectations about what’s possible for machine learning in medicine, the future will be brighter for Watson, their clients, and AI in healthcare, in general. Watson’s success is good for all of us, but it’s failure is bad for all of us, too.
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Dale has been one of the most influential leaders in healthcare analytics and data warehousing since his earliest days in the industry, starting at Intermountain Healthcare from 1997-2005, where he was the chief architect for the enterprise data warehouse (EDW) and regional director of medical informatics at LDS Hospital. In 2001, he founded the Healthcare Data Warehousing Association. From 2005-2009, he was the CIO for Northwestern University’s physicians’ group and the chief architect of the Northwestern Medical EDW. From 2009-2012, he served as the CIO for the national health system of the Cayman Islands where he helped lead the implementation of new care delivery processes that are now associated with accountable care in the US. Prior to his healthcare experience, Dale had a diverse 14-year career that included duties as a CIO on Looking Glass airborne command posts in the US Air Force; IT support for the Reagan/Gorbachev summits; nuclear threat assessment for the National Security Agency and START Treaty; chief architect for the Intel Corp’s Integrated Logistics Data Warehouse; and co-founder of Information Technology International. As a systems engineer at TRW, Dale and his team developed the largest Oracle data warehouse in the world at that time (1995), using an innovative design principle now known as a late binding architecture. He holds a BS degree in chemistry and minor in biology from Ft. Lewis College, Durango Colorado, and is a graduate of the US Air Force Information Systems Engineering program.