by adgrooms on October 8, 2019

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a technology that has been developed through years of collaborative effort across several disciplines including psychology, mathematics, linguistics, philosophy, and computer science. Today, AI has matured to the point of producing useful tools for Healthcare, but it also models what multi-disciplinary collaboration can accomplish. Systemic innovation in Healthcare will be massively boosted by a similar multi-disciplinary approach.

The idea of artificial intelligence has been around since science fiction writing of the 1930s and 1940s. It started becoming a reality when researchers from different fields came together at a conference in 1956 to discuss how AI could be achieved. It took decades of starts and stops, development of key building blocks, and significant increases in computational power before AI became a viable mainstream technology. Now various concepts and tools from this collaboration such as neural networks, decision trees, search optimization, and pattern recognition, have developed into many applications across industries and roles. The progress in AI came from the cross-pollination of expertise to produce all of these innovations.

Multidisciplinary teams can work together to solve problems in healthcare, sharing ideas and techniques from other industries. Aviation and healthcare work together to improve patient safety and procedural standards. Some institutions are using lean methodology, an innovation from the automotive industry, to improve efficiency and give front line workers a greater voice in innovation. The software industry has contributed the agile framework, which utilizes flexibility with continuous improvement and review to implement improvements.

Like an orchestra, each instrument has its own unique sound and can carry a tune. When combined with other instruments limitless possibilities to create melodies, chords, and countermelodies present themselves. The same goes for multidisciplinary innovation. Combining disciplines can bring about greater and faster innovation. Different perspectives and approaches to problem-solving can produce a solution not possible without collaboration, like AI.

How can multidisciplinary collaboration in healthcare be encouraged? What can be done to increase the opportunities?