Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) and the Warfighter Health Mission
- By: Hassan A. Tetteh MD
The Department of Defense faces threats and challenges today that are now trans-regional, multi-domain, and multifunctional. Military medicine supports the warfighter in all warfare domains to provide the best readiness, operational support, and healthcare to the force that protects our national interest throughout the world.
A new paradigm of health care delivery is on the horizon. An Artificial Intelligence (AI) revolution is not coming; the revolution is already here. AI is fundamentally changing the landscape of healthcare delivery, and many leaders are not prepared. Like electricity in the past, AI represents the general-purpose technology (GPT) of our era. The Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) Warfighter Health Mission exists to deliver AI-enabled capability to create a better, stronger, and more relevant 21st-century military medical force to support the health, readiness, and resilience of the warfighter and their families.
Warfighter Health Mission
Like many other industries, healthcare is undergoing significant change. Five key drivers impact the rapid advance in Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology as it relates to the potential application in warfighter health.
Five critical drivers in AI technology:
- Exponential growth in computer power over the past decades
- Large datasets for machine learning training
- Machine learning technique improvement
- Increased commercial and government investment in AI research
- Use of electronic health records and digital health information
Collectively, the five drivers of AI technology, coupled with the massive data stored on our warfighters, will help to provide insight on resiliency, understand injury and disease at a fundamentally better level. Ultimately, AI will help facilitate treatment and therapeutics to support our warfighters and their families more effectively and efficiently.
The JAIC’s overarching mission is to transform the DoD through the application of AI technologies and accelerate the adoption and integration of AI to achieve mission impact at scale. The Military Health System (MHS) faces significant reform through recent National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAA) of 2017 - 2019 and will implement a new electronic health record solution across the enterprise. Thus, our JAIC Warfighter Health Mission aims to support the MHS and the Services with expertise and infrastructure, to deliver AI-enabled capabilities to achieve improvement in the following three mission objectives at scale:
- Service member’s health
- Service member’s readiness
- Service’s population health
Warfighter Health Mission: AI Delivery
The private sector currently leverages AI in healthcare to establish a faster diagnosis, provide better treatment plans, and improve health. Machine learning of the radiological interpretation of CT scans has already made a significant impact on surgery. With the aid of computer vision, algorithms can detect cancer in pathologic and radiologic imaging with the same fidelity of humans.
Physicians can now use AI to tailor treatment plans for individual patients and improve operations as well as identify public-health threats and the most at-risk and vulnerable patients earlier than before to improve population health more efficiently and on a larger scale than ever before realized.1
Used as a tool to augment current care, AI may consolidate biological and physiologic data, genomic data, physician data, subjective patient data inputs, treatment and diagnoses to reveal how best to promote health, resiliency, and readiness in warfighters. At Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, a use case demonstrates how the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) partners with the Department of Defense (DoD) to use AI technologies to predict medical complications better and improve treatment of severe combat wounds, ideally leading to improved patient outcomes, faster healing, and lower costs.2
Ultimately, improved Service readiness, service member population health, and potential savings in time, money, and resources for the DoD may be achieved through the application of AI in military medicine.
Rapid progress will likely continue to accelerate AI advances in the coming years.3
Thus, as further advances are made, AI has the potential to be a transformative technology in military medicine on par with, and perhaps to supersede, anesthesia, vaccines, antisepsis, and blood transfusions. Indeed, the National Security Strategy (NSS) references the need for the United States to harness emerging technologies such as AI.4
As such, the Warfighter Health Mission works in concert with our Service stakeholders and program offices to obtain requirements and coordinate our projects and product lines to deliver AI-enabled capabilities across combat medical care, medical readiness, and medical logistics domains. With the other JAIC Mission initiatives including Joint Warfighting, Predictive Maintenance, Intelligent Business Automation, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, and Cyber we support the Intelligence Community (IC) to promote our national security agenda and implement our national security strategy.
Warfighter Health Mission: AI Leadership
Health is most important. Herophilus of Chalcedon, the physician to Alexander the Great, admonished, “When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot become manifest, strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless, and intelligence cannot be applied.”5
For centuries, the stakes for warfighter health in the military have been of paramount importance and, at times, the decisive advantage to bring victory. Health and fitness for the warfighter, therefore, are essential for mission success and to secure National Security and preserve our national interests.
For decades, military medicine led in many areas of healthcare delivery. Military medicine was among the first to adopt and use electronic health records in their military treatment facilities and platforms across the country and throughout the world.6
The military leads in every aspect of global expeditionary and humanitarian care. We have no peer group when it comes to logistics and sustaining medical capabilities in remote and austere environments to care for the severely ill, wounded, and traumatically injured.
As AI systems are developed and utilized, the JAIC will lead to consider the ethical, moral, and legal implications of how AI technologies are deployed. The JAIC Warfighter Health Mission will work with stakeholders to promote the evaluation and accountability of algorithms and work to eliminate biases.
Machines learn using data. Computers learn best when data is abundant in volume, veracity, velocity, value, and variety. Thus, the military is positioned well to develop the best learning machines in healthcare. For decades the military has captured, stored, and processed voluminous data, including genetic data, on its millions of service members and their families. Working with partners, the military medical community may harness much from AI technologies developed from rich data to potentially inform processes to not only help the military but also the nation’s civilian sector as well.
Warfighter Health Mission: A Call to Action
The Medical Artificial Intelligence Network (MAIN) invites you to join our community. Engagement with commercial, academic, and international allies and partners are among the pillars of the DoD AI strategy. To that end, the MAIN was established by the Warfighter Health Mission within the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC). This global community is a distributed network of forward thinkers from commercial, academic, and government agencies working cooperatively to accelerate the ethical, safe, effective, and unbiased use of AI to improve health. Engage the community with your AI questions and answer questions from others. Working together we will advance the potential opportunities of AI in health into brilliant reality.
Established February 2020, Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, Warfighter Health National Mission Initiative.
How to Join
- Go to www.apan.org and select “Create an Account.”
- Log in to www.apan.org, type “Medical Artificial Intelligence Network” into the apan search bar and select the “Medical Artificial Intelligence Network (MAIN)” work group from the drop down menu.
- Submit your request to join the MAIN and within 48 hours your request will be approved.
1McKinsey Global Institute Discussion Paper. (June 2017) Artificial Intelligence: The Next Digital Frontier? McKinsey and Company, Accessed, March 13, 2018: https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Industries/Advanced%20Electronics/Our%20Insights/How%20artificial%20intelligence%20can%20deliver%20real%20value%20to%20companies/MGI-Artificial-Intelligence-Discussion-paper.ashx
2Elster, Eric. “Surgical Critical Care Initiative: Bringing Precision Medicine to the Critically Ill,” presentation at AI for Social Good workshop, Washington, DC, June 7, 2016, http://cra.org/ccc/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2016/06/Eric-Elster-AI-slides-min.pdf
3Bergstein, Brian, The AI Issue, MIT Technology Review, Vol 120, No. 6, Nov/Dec, 2017, page 2.
4National Security Strategy, Ecd 2017, page 18
5 The Clarion-Ledger, Herophilus Quote. January 16, 2009, Accessed December 31, 2017, https://rogueclassicism.com/2009/01/16/herophilus-quote/
6Tetteh, HA. Achieving nirvana through an electronic medical record system. Mil Med. 2010 May; vol 175, no. 5, pg 295-7.