Mayo Clinic and ASU Alliance for Health Care invests in the power of AI

Friday, February 19, 2021

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is a broad term. It includes the techniques of machine learning and deep learning through which computers mimic the operation of the human brain. The practical application of AI holds remarkable promise in fields ranging from transportation to health care.

“The opportunities now are very exciting given the development of faster computers, more powerful algorithms and better data during the past few years,” said Dr. Bhavik Patel, who has been appointed the new director of artificial intelligence for Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

Patel says the use of AI in clinical settings can, for example, make paperwork processing more efficient so that health care providers can spend additional time with patients. But he says this kind of application represents just the low-hanging fruit.

“We also can more innovatively tackle disparities in the provision of health care. And by that, I mean we could leverage AI to provide specialty care in rural settings for people who don’t have easy access to world-renowned institutions like Mayo Clinic,” he said. “Increasing the reach of our expertise to more patients is of huge importance.”

Toward that end, Patel will be applying his skills to the Mayo Clinic and Arizona State University Alliance for Health Care. Through this collaborative partnership, he will serve jointly with the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering and the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering, which are two of the six Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU.

“We are thrilled with Bhavik’s arrival in Arizona,” said Kyle Squires, dean of the Fulton Schools. “Given the focus of his efforts at Mayo, it’s apparent that the range of his collaborations will be comprehensive. So, we look forward to supporting his efforts and developing differentiated strengths to enable our faculty and students, and to further advance our Mayo alliance.”

Patel comes to Arizona after three years as an assistant professor of radiology and associate director of AI evaluation and implementation at Stanford University Medical Center, which followed almost four years as an assistant professor at Duke University Medical Center. In his new role, he is based at the ASU Health Futures Center, or HFC, adjacent to the Mayo Clinic Hospital in north Phoenix.

“The beauty of the HFC is that it is an immersive space. It allows for the integration of multifaceted research and truly cross-disciplinary work,” Patel said. “Faculty and students can flow between different labs and discuss what they are doing in a way that informs and advances everyone’s projects.”

Patel says one key goal for his work at the HFC is developing a center for artificial intelligence. Its purpose will be to facilitate communication and resources among different investigators in order to foster new efforts.

“We want to inform clinician-scientists about the potential of AI and deep learning for their work while we simultaneously enlighten university faculty and students about aspects of clinical medicine that can support their research,” he said. “There is so much we can accomplish. We just need to catalyze it.”

Patel says the combination of a world-renowned clinical center and one of the nation’s most entrepreneurial universities is a perfect means to carry out groundbreaking work, and he looks forward to supporting the vision of Mayo Clinic and ASU leadership to improve health care through AI innovation.

“We’re very happy to welcome Dr. Patel to the Fulton Schools of Engineering,” said Neal Woodbury, vice president of research and chief science and technology officer, ASU Knowledge Enterprise. “He will be instrumental in advancing research endeavors in AI, as well as strengthening our partnership with Mayo Clinic in Arizona.”

“We are very excited by the addition of Bhavik Patel as the inaugural director of artificial intelligence,” said Amy Hara, chair of radiology for Mayo Clinic in Arizona. “His close collaboration with ASU researchers at the Health Futures Center and colleagues across Mayo Clinic will advance the role of machine learning and AI in health care. He also will play a pivotal role in furthering the Mayo Clinic and ASU Alliance, as well as help us reach the Mayo Clinic’s 2030 Bold Forward vision to digitally transform what we do.”

The Mayo Clinic and ASU Alliance for Health Care is developing comprehensive improvements in the science of health care delivery and practice, all toward one goal: continually advancing patient care. Together, the recognized world leader in patient care, education and research, and the nation’s No. 1 ranked university for innovation are combining expertise from every corner of health care — doctors to bioengineers to business experts — for an adaptive approach to preparing the next generation of health care pioneers and practitioners in our communities.