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NYU Langone Health in the News—Friday, August 25, 2023 – NYU Langone Health

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In the Media

NYU Launched Private ChatGPT for Its Health Data, and Set Its Staff Loose to Experiment
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STAT News – August 25
-Cristina M. Gonzalez, MD, professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Hospital Medicine, and Department of Population Health
-Yindalon Aphinyanaphongs, MD, PhD, assistant professor, Departments of Population Health, and Medicine, Division of Hospital Medicine
-Paawan V. Punjabi, MD, clinical assistant professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Hospital Medicine
NYC Air Quality from Wildfire Smoke Was No Worse than Bad Pollen Day: Study
PIX 11 – August 24
-NYU Langone Health
Canadian Wildfires Led to Spike in Asthma ER Visits, Especially in the Northeast
Associated Press – August 24
-George D. Thurston, PhD, professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Environmental Medicine, and Department of Population Health
How to Reverse the Damage Your Kid’s Sedentary Time Has Done to Their Heart
This article was picked up by news websites across the country.
CNN – August 24
-Nieca Goldberg, MD, clinical associate professor, Department of Medicine, the Leon H. Charney Division of Cardiology
ED Visits for Asthma Increase in New York City During Canadian Wildfires
Healio Allergy/Asthma – August 24
-George D. Thurston, PhD, professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Environmental Medicine, and Department of Population Health
Mohs Found to Confer Survival Benefit in Localized Merkel Cell Carcinoma
(Free log-in required)
Medscape – August 24
-John A. Carucci, MD, PhD, professor, the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology
Mohs Micrographic Surgery May Promote Greater Survival Rates for Merkel Cell Carcinoma Patients
HCP Live – August 24
-John A. Carucci, MD, PhD, professor, the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology
FDA Advisory Committee Split on Renal Denervation Systems
HCP Live – August 24
-Binita Shah, MD, associate professor, Department of Medicine, the Leon H. Charney Division of Cardiology
Researchers Successfully Transplanted Pig Kidneys into Humans
Medical News Today – August 24
-NYU Langone Health
Six Hairstyles That Are Making Your Hair Fall Out So Much Faster, According to a Stylist
SheFinds – August 25
-Doris Day, MD, clinical associate professor, the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology
Town, Hospital Team up to Respond to Shark Bites
The Garden City News – August 24
-Division of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island
*STAT News, August 25, 2023 – NYU launched private ChatGPT for its health data, and set its staff loose to experiment – A fourth-year medical student, a music therapist, a child psychiatrist, and a physician-researcher stared at their laptops, puzzling over the combination of words that would make a supposedly intelligent system — NYU Langone’s customized version of ChatGPT — think about health care problems in a way that was useful to them.
As part of a “prompt-a-thon” in August at the medical center’s science building, the group had been charged with analyzing a patient record around the theme of equity using NYU’s HIPAA-compliant implementation of the buzzy OpenAI technology that can interpret language and generate text based on queries.
After a morning of mini-lectures, participants broke off into assigned groups and dove into NYU Langone’s newly launched prompting interface. Representatives from Microsoft, which makes the artificial intelligence tool accessible through its cloud services, were on hand to ensure everything ran smoothly as about 70 workshop participants from across the academic medical center put prompts into the system around themes including research, clinical applications, and patient education.
The equity group’s initial experiments with NYU’s GPT turned out to be illuminating because of the roadblocks they hit. NYU’s GPT couldn’t identify any instances of bias in the text of the patient record, which Cristina Gonzalez, who studies implicit bias in medicine, confirmed after reading it herself. Later the group turned to a research article assessing disparities in outcomes during the Covid-19 pandemic in New York City. While NYU’s GPT was able to identify some issues of bias raised by the article, it faltered when asked to examine the paper’s methodology, noting that no sampling method had been specified. Gonzalez explained that was because no sampling method had been employed — all comers were included in the research.
Gonzalez, a physician who also sees patients at an NYU Langone center in Brooklyn, said those first experiments highlighted for her “the importance of having the right use cases” and also of having “a human in the loop” who can identify when the GPT system isn’t delivering useful information. Gonzalez applied to the prompt-a-thon because she was familiar with an NYU medical school tool that surfaces educational resources relevant to cases trainees are seeing in practice and wondered if something similar might not be done for resources around social determinants of health and other health equity topics.
The prompt-a-thon is the latest in a series of steps that the NYU Langone informatics department’s leadership has taken to harness ideas like Gonzalez’s by cultivating use of generative AI technology among staff. The hope is that in the long-run, these efforts might lead to tools that create improvements in efficiency, care, and more. While the use of generative AI in health care is still new, NYU Langone’s move to quickly embrace broad experimentation with ChatGPT could serve as a model for other institutions that hope to explore the technology.
In recent months, OpenAI-powered generative AI tools for answering messages from patients and creating clinical documentation have found their way into health systems like Stanford and UC San Diego through vendors like Epic, Nuance, and Microsoft. Health systems like Massachusetts General Hospital and Cleveland Clinic have revealed homegrown experiments with GPTs. But NYU is notable for seemingly opening the internal floodgates to the technology by inviting health care use cases from all its employees.
“The ideas aren’t going to come from me, they’re going to come from everyday folks who are thinking about their own problems, who are doing things for themselves,” said Yindalon Aphinyanaphongs, an assistant professor who leads the predictive analytics unit in NYU Langone’s department of informatics. “And one advantage to GPT is that it’s incredibly democratizing with a low barrier to entry.”
Generative AI started gaining popular traction last year after OpenAI released the simple ChatGPT interface that allowed just about anyone to interact with its technology, and Aphinyanaphongs said that by this spring, it became clear that people across the organization were using ChatGPT.
The first thing the system did was issue a policy barring the use of ChatGPT with private health data and confidential business information. The public version of ChatGPT is not compliant with the health privacy law HIPAA, and data that’s submitted is stored by OpenAI. But rather than block access to the website domain altogether and discourage its use, Aphinyanaphongs said that they saw an opportunity.
“We think this is transformative, so let’s start to figure out how to engage the community,” he said.
In March, when Microsoft announced that managed versions of ChatGPT that could be private and HIPAA compliant would be available through its cloud platform Azure, Aphinyanaphongs put in an application, and was quickly approved for use with the most advanced OpenAI GPT models. Aphinyanaphongs’ predictive analytics unit put out a call offering the technology to people in the NYU Langone community who were interested. Within weeks, they had over a hundred applications and Aphinyanaphongs said that his group “reflexively” gave people four weeks of access to the platform to experiment.
Some of those applications were identified as worthy of mentorship, including projects around trying to convert complex radiology reports into simple language that patients can understand or instances when certain kinds of drugs are noted in a patient’s care plan but not in their active medication list.
Though there are concerns about runaway use of generative AI in health care before it’s been adequately tested in clinical contexts, Aphinyanaphongs said that the application process in which people must spell out their use case serves as a guardrail — as does applicant’s employment status.
“We haven’t read any that have been like, OK, this seems really questionable,” he said.
Moreover, the organization is being more selective about who can have access that would allow someone to use the technology for more than individual prompting sessions.
As it doled out access to staff, Aphinyanaphongs’ team realized that despite the simplicity of entering a few queries, it was taking people a long time to get going with GPT chat. The prompt-a-thon grew out of an effort that includes office hours and road shows for different constituencies across the organization aimed at broadening the pool of people who are equipped to experiment with the technology.
Liza Wu, another member of the group tackling equity, was aware of the excitement around ChatGPT but had barely any experience with the technology ahead of the prompt-a-thon. A music therapist who works with adults undergoing inpatient rehabilitation for stroke, traumatic brain injury, and other conditions, she applied because she wondered if it could help her come up with music that was relevant to patients from cultures she wasn’t familiar with.
Wu said one of her takeaways was understanding that it might not be appropriate to use ChatGPT if she wasn’t going to be able to evaluate whether or not the technology’s output was reliable. And that one should always ask whether using GPT would really be helpful for a task by making things more efficient or better.
She said the event made her wonder if there might not be ways to use prompting to help people whose motor skills have been impacted to make music by simply speaking descriptions of what they want it to sound like.
“I need to talk to the NYU IT people and say, hey, help me make this happen!” she said.
Not everyone at the event was a novice. Arys Nogueron, a director of fundraising analytics at NYU Langone who works with machine learning models, was in a group that had quickly used NYU’s GPT system to extract abnormal lab results from a note for a patient who had been admitted to the emergency department, and asked it to order them by how much the numbers varied from normal. They were able to instruct the system to write a patient note from the lab values and then later to analyze the documented treatment plan to see if anything had been missed.
Of course, Nogueron and his partner weren’t doctors, so they called over Paawan Punjabi, a physician and prompt-a-thon mentor, to have a look at the output. He noted that NYU’s GPT gave what seemed to be appropriate treatment considerations, if not exactly spelling out potential errors or contraindications.
After teams wrapped up the hands-on portion of the afternoon and awards had been given out, Aphinyanaphongs left attendees with a call to action.
“Once you identify something that you might think would be viable or something you can work on, we’re here to help move your ideas into potentially products, into research, into other kinds of things,” he said, adding: “We think one day, every piece of text that’s generated for or by NYU will go through a language model of some sort doing something to support the work of delivering clinical care and the academic work that we do.”
Speaking after the event, Gonzalez said that she’d gotten good results asking NYU’s GPT to identify redundancies in a grant application she was working on with a looming deadline. It identified her use of the term implicit bias, the subject of her work, as a repeated term — something she would have to live with. But the system also suggested places where she might vary her language or where she inadvertently explained the same concept in multiple places.
“It was really nice to have a fresh set of eyes in a non-human form,” she said.
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