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IU Researchers Receive Grant to Prove Advantages of Data Mining for Healthcare

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Artificial intelligence in hospitals working with doctors to prescribe treatment sounds like something straight out of the movies. Researchers at the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University are working to make this a reality.

The process, which uses data mining and a method called machine learning, could lead the way to a cheaper, better healthcare system. The research being done now is a collaboration of separate research started in 2010. Assistant Professor at IU Kris Hauser is one of the Principal Investigators.

“This was started a few years ago by one of my students who is now a part of this project and he had access to some good data with Centerstone research,” Hauser says, “We got together in my artificial intelligence class and we designed a system to try to recommend when and how much to treat people with mental health disorders. This new project is an attempt to expand that into new clinical domains. That includes cardiology, E.R. readmissions, and to improve the existing application.”

Hauser received his PhD. In Computer Science at Stanford University and won the CAREER award last year from the National Science Foundation.

The research centers mostly around a mathematical framework that can mine existing data to detect patterns. What this means for healthcare is that computers could access a patients complete medical records and suggest a treatment plan that wouldn’t conflict with any past conditions.

One of the obstacles in getting this framework to be effective is the lack of uniformity in hospitals nationwide with their electronic record keeping. Hauser says that until the historical quirks get worked out, they have to work very closely with their data providers to be able to use the data. Once it becomes easier to access the data, the machine learning framework will be able to access more and more data to make more complex treatment plans.

“You can’t really see a pattern unless you have enough data,” Hauser says, “So that’s what the A.I. is trying to do, look at patterns in the data to try and predict how new patients will behave. The more data you get, the more of a complete picture you get of a new patient. While every person is, to some extent, unique, there are some patterns as well in how your disease is progressing and how you might respond to a treatment. The more people we have like you as a patient, the better our predictions will be.

The other Principal Investigator of the research, Sriraam Natarajan, has worked closely with data in the fields of artificial intelligence and its application to bio-medical problems. He explains how this data mining and learning is something we see in our daily lives and that it could easily be harnessed to use in healthcare.

“I think that many people do not clearly see the impact data can have on their day-to-day lives,” Natarajan says, “Of course they see it when Google uses their data to better provide a service, like giving better search results for a movie to watch or a product to buy. I feel that the impact could be similar in terms of healthcare where data can aid in improving the quality of life and treatments, and hopefully lower the costs.”

The goal of the research is not to replace doctors but rather help them in their decision-making. Hauser says the reason this would be so helpful is because doctors don’t always have the time to look at all the data a computer could. In this instance, time is certainly money and Hauser says this research would not only improve the quality of healthcare but also bring down the cost for the patient.

“Our medical system is filled with billions and billions of dollars of wasted opportunities for treating people in a cost-effective way,” Hauser says, “Doctors over-prescribe medicines, they over-prescribe treatments, and they may not be doing the most effect treatments because they may have missed something about a person’s medical history. The information here is to let the doctor make the most informed choice. Doctors already don’t have a lot of time to spend with a patient and the medical history. This has the opportunity to digest the information for them and present it in a user-friendly way, then we have to see a better outcome.”

The research just received a $686,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant will help the researchers work towards trying out the intelligent computer frameworks on real patients in a real hospital setting.

“This provides the opportunity to save money, even in a single-disease scenario,” Hauser says, “Clinical depression, for example, is a multi-billion dollar industry. If we even save one percent of costs, this is paying back the investment many, many times over.”

Westville Correctional Facility Hunger Strike

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Last week, prisoners at the Westville Correctional Facility in Westville, Indiana staged a hunger strike and mass-call, in response to the transition last Fall from hot lunches to cold sack lunches. The mass-call succeeded in alerting prison officials to the prisoners’ dissatisfaction, and the facility has now switched back to hot lunches. Now, family members of Westville prisoners are claiming that the heat has been turned off in sections of the prison housing prisoners who participated in the strike. WFHB correspondent Lauren Glapa spoke with Westville Public Information Officer John Schrader about what he knows, and with an organizer from the group Indiana Prisoner Solidarity who chose the pseudonym Jesse Smith, for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.

The State of the Union

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President Obama opened last night’s State of the Union Address by declaring his determination to strengthen the American middle class, and stating that he would not hesitate to use executive orders if legislation fails. We bring you a portion of his speech for today’s WFHB feature report.

HJR-3 in Second Day with Amendment

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House Joint Resolution Three, Indiana’s proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions, had its second reading on the House floor yesterday afternoon. An amendment striking the second sentence of the two-sentence bill was proposed by Representative Truitt of House District 26. The second sentence read, “Provides that a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.” Now we bring you the entire discussion from the House floor, for today’s WFHB feature report.

Bill Would Set New Limits on Environmental Regulations

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Last week a committee in the Indiana House of Representatives approved a bill that would limit the power of state legislators. The law, proposed by Republican representative David Wolkins, would make it illegal for the state to pass environmental regulations that are more strict than federal laws. For years similar measures were shot down in the statehouse, with the help of conservative Senator Beverly Gard, who became the face of the measure’s opposition. Gard retired in 2012, and this year marks the first time the bill has moved out of committee without Gard to block it. Assistant News Director Joe Crawford spoke with Gard this afternoon for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.

“Your Love is True”

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Last night, the second annual Celebration of Love – a marriage ceremony officiated by Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan celebrating same sex couples – was held at the closing of the first day of the PRIDE Film Festival at the Buskirk Chumley Theater.

Pride Film Fest Co-Director on Upcoming Scheduled Pride Events

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The 11th Annual Bloomington Pride Film Festival takes place tonight, Saturday, and Sunday at the Buskirk Chumley Theater. Its films will explore a wide variety of issues and situations involving gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities. The weekend-long festival also includes live performances, a dance party, and a mass LGBTQ wedding. Correspondent Lauren Glapa spoke with co-director Sarah Perfetti about the festival for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.

Freedom Rider Hank Thomas on MLK Day

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Hank Thomas overcame an impoverished childhood in southern Georgia and Florida to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he was active in the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee affiliated Non-violent Action Group. After participating in the May 4th CORE Freedom Ride, Thomas returned to the deep south to participate in the May 24th Mississippi Freedom Ride from Montgomery, Alabama to Jackson, Mississippi, and was jailed at Parchman State Prison Farm. After being released on bail, he went on to participate in the July 14th New Jersey to Arkansas CORE Freedom Ride. On August 22nd, 1961, Thomas became the first Freedom Rider to appeal his conviction for breach of peace. He was released on appeal, pending payment of a two thousand dollar bond. Following the Freedom Rides, Thomas served in the Vietnam War, returning home after being wounded in 1966. In recent years, Thomas has owned and operated several hotel and fast food restaurant franchises in the Atlanta metro region. Thomas joined us live in the studio on Monday, before his keynote address at the 2014 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration, to talk on our weekly program Bring it On. Now, highlights from that conversation for a WFHB feature report.

Legislation Introduced to Prevent Demolition of Six Historic Houses on IU Campus

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A local state legislator has introduced a bill that would prevent Indiana University from demolishing six historic houses to make room for a new fraternity house. WFHB Assistant News Director Joe Crawford spoke with Representative Matt Pierce about the measure for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.

Indiana University Vice President Jackie Simmons on HJR-3

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Indiana University Vice President and General Counsel Jackie Simmons spoke before the Indiana House of Representative’s Judiciary committee on Monday, during consideration of House Joint Resolution 3, the proposed constitutional amendment outlawing same sex marriage.

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