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Cleveland Clinic, IBM leaders talk AI and cybersecurity at Cleveland innovation event

Discovery Meeting
Cleveland Clinic
Dr. Tom Mihaljevic, Cleveland Clinic CEO, shared his concerns about health systems' vulnerability to cyberattacks during a chat with Gary Cohn, IBM vice chairman, at an event focused on innovation in health care.

Cleveland Clinic and IBM touted early progress in their partnership in health innovation at a Cleveland event Tuesday, one year after IBM installed a quantum computer at the Clinic's main campus.

In 2021, the organizations announced a 10-year Discovery Accelerator partnership, where they would work together to run large amounts of data and AI models on a quantum computer for health care research.

Dr. Tom Mihaljevic, Cleveland Clinic CEO, and Gary Cohn, IBM vice chairman, said AI will dramatically reshape health care, but that may be years or even decades away.

"I think we would probably agree [AI is] overhyped in the short term, but seismic in the long term," Cohn said. "The one thing we've all learned from AI is it gets smarter every day. We're going to get smarter every day as we go through this program."

Still, Mihaljevic said AI could soon improve efficiency at the Clinic, through entering and analyzing medical records — a task currently handled by Clinic employees.

"Our time... is mostly used to enter data to try to retrieve data from the electronic medical record," he explained. "There is actually incalculable amount of time that is being used to try to synthesize the data from a variety of different sources for patient benefit."

AI will eventually eliminate the need for Clinic employees to provide data entry, Mihaljevic said, but he added those employees could transition into roles that would be more engaging for them.

Mihaljevic also shared his concerns about potential cyberattacks on the Clinic’s systems.

An attack that impedes pharmacies' ability to dispense medications would be catastrophic, Cohn said.

"You guys could be giving out great medical care, but if the ultimate customer can't get the proper medication and can't get it delivered in a timely fashion, and that system breaks down, your system breaks down," he said.

Health systems are vulnerable to cyber attacks because many departments do not have enough security and hospitals tend to have too few IT staff, Mihajevic said.

Taylor Wizner is a health reporter with Ideastream Public Media.