EIT Digital course in Tel Aviv surveys possibilities for AI in healthcare

The transformational potential of artificial intelligence on human existence has been recognised in a variety of fields. But perhaps the most direct and possibly profound impacts could come in the area of healthcare, where advances have the potential to extend and improve our lives. This fall, EIT Digital - in collaboration with the innovation hub The Arena- will offer a one-week course  in Tel Aviv to give students an overview and introduction into a topic that is expected to grow in importance.

The possible applications for AI in healthcare are wide ranging: from drug discovery, to imaging, to assistance with diagnostics. EIT Digital's "AI for Healthcare Innovation" course, running 12-16 November gives students a general introduction to the possibilities - and limitations - of using AI in healthcare.

The programme is part of EIT Digital's new "Summer School on the Road" initiative, which involves courses taking place outside of Europe during the autumn. The goal is to introduce new students and professionals to the EIT Digital educational and innovation ecosystem, adding to the community of potential learners for EIT Digital's Master School.

The target audience of AI for Healthcare Innovation includes anyone working on their bachelor's degree, or with a higher level of education, according to Naomi Blank, one of the instructors. Course participants might be students in the health field, the IT field, or other fields, or they may be professionals. Blank explained the team developing the course has developed similar "courses for people who deal with technology in their work, so they are not students but are already working."

What students learn

The brief course will provide an overview, explained one of the instructors, Alex Blekhman, a systems engineer, who like others developing the programme, is involved with the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology. The course will survey basic topics, such as machine learning, algorithms, privacy and ethics, system structures, and more. It will include a chance to listen to an AI panel and visit a company using AI in healthcare.

The goal is to give students "the feeling, the sense of knowledge and the confidence they need in order to successfully lead the conceptualisation and implementation of AI systems for healthcare," Blekhman said. He added that being comfortable with AI in healthcare is more important for anyone going into either healthcare or AI, because "most of the modern systems incorporate AI in healthcare, so it will be valuable to anyone to gain some knowledge in this field."

"The focus is on the aspects of AI in healthcare that are unique from other AI applications," said Uri Goren, an AI and health specialist who took the lead in conceptualising the curriculum.

Along with an overview of natural language processing, in particular the large language model made possible by AI, there will be discussion of computer visioning, which involves teaching computers to analyse images, he said. This field is already revolutionising the reading of medical imaging, such as x-rays and CT scans.

The course helps students understand the theory behind how technology works, and the different phases involved, according to Goren. Equally important, it also helps students "know the limitations of AI," he said.

"We want to teach them how to be a bit more sceptical about the answers and how to look for better sources and how to better guide the language model, so they would get something that is a bit more reliable," Goren said.

As with all EIT Digital courses, this course will also feature discussion of entrepreneurship, with a mention of the steps students would go through to create a new business in healthcare and AI.

Students will be given "the feeling, the sense of knowledge and the confidence they need in order to successfully lead the conceptualisation and implementation of AI systems for healthcare," according to Blekhman.

A great location

The course participants are expected to be a diverse, multisectoral and international group, and the training and accommodations will be in "the best location ever" according to Nofar Sharan Reicher, one of the course organisers.

The Prima Link Hotel is just outside of Tel Aviv, with easy public transit access to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for those who want to tour Israel.

"It's a gorgeous place, with a pool and bar on the roof, and a very young atmosphere," Sharan Reicher said. It will also be a perfect place to jump into an exciting new topic, she added.

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