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Steve Griffiths, Ph.D., MS, chief operating officer, and SVP, Enterprise Analytics at Optum (optum.com), outlines the many changes and improvements that his company, Optum, seeks to bring to the healthcare industry.

Griffiths has a long history of leadership as a health IT executive and his passion is firmly rooted in actionable health care intelligence that brings innovation and change to the increasingly complex health ecosystem. Griffiths uses his experience in the health industry to assist providers as they push to improve practices to value-based care. Griffith believes it is important to treat people, not symptoms, and this care philosophy is the cornerstone of his work. Griffiths has many years experience in the health industry, most recently with Optum, but before his tenure there he was the director of healthcare informatics at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota. Griffiths holds a BS in Mathematics and Statistics from St. Olaf College, an MS in Biostatistics from the University of Washington, and a Ph.D. in Health Services Research, Policy, and Administration from the University of Minnesota -Twin Cities.

Griffiths provides an overview of Optum, a health services company within United Health Group. He explains the various divisions of Optum and its main branches: Optum Health, Optum Rx, and Optum Insight. As Griffith explains, Optum provides health services across the entire health care system. Their health branch assists individuals and families, helping them attain the high-quality care they deserve, as well as assisting with the management of their prescriptions and health care finances. And Optum works with industry organizations, health plans, and providers as well, tackling the many and diverse challenges in modern healthcare. Their OptumRx branch acts as a pharmacy care services company that seeks to improve and maximize efficiency in pharmacy benefit management. The Optum system allows doctors to make informed decisions, staying current on all the latest developments. And their Data and Analytics branch utilizes the latest groundbreaking technology in artificial intelligence including natural language processing, machine learning, and neural networks to tailor healthcare solutions for specific needs. Optum essentially helps to transform hard data into insights. Griffiths refers to their data analytics as Optum IQ, as that is the center of the intelligence that drives all of their businesses, through the use of data, analytics, and expertise—all supported by technology.

The technology guru delves into the applied spaces that they see AI advancing, across the spectrum of healthcare industry entities. He discusses the predictive nature of technology that may direct a course of action, such as identifying diabetes patients sooner, predicting possible opioid usage, predicting probabilities for heart failure, and more, essentially assisting doctors, helping to provide a clearer, fuller picture of patients’ health profiles. Additionally, Griffith adds, the data can provide for more efficiency in the overall healthcare process as well, which helps everyone to get the care that they need faster.

Griffiths outlines the specifics of using AI to additionally verify patient information and identity, to ensure safety by helping to avoid human error in records and processing, etc. The AI healthcare technology expert talks about the future advances that are coming in the industry as the tech develops further. From advances within cloud services to clinical programs and clinical prediction of disease, prediction of future costs, and more, the many possibilities for improved care are exciting and Griffith expects Optum to be at the center of innovation within the industry.

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