In March, Brian S. Anderson, M.D., the CEO of the newly formed Coalition for Health AI (CHAI), said he expects a federated network of approximately 30 health AI assurance labs to be stood up this year.  On April 10, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts awarded $550,000 to support the establishment of a Health AI Assurance Laboratory at UMass Chan Medical School. 

The new AI assurance lab will be run in partnership with MITRE and supported through the Technology & Innovation Ecosystem Awards Program managed by the Innovation Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, along with $137,000 in matching investments from private investors.

Anderson, who was previously chief digital health physician at MITRE, recently explained the concept of assurance labs. “When you think about tools, like electrical devices in your house as an example, they might have an Underwriters Lab sticker that says that it meets a certain quality standard. Or the National Highway Safety Institute or the Insurance Institute for car manufacturers — they test these independently and then they have a methodology for evaluation. They issue report cards that are oftentimes published in Consumer Reports. We envision a Consumer Reports-like effort with a federated network of assurance labs across the U.S.”

“The hope is that in the shared discovery process that gets us to that testing and evaluation framework, we will have a rubric that these labs can adopt to say, ‘Okay, any model that wants to come through for training purposes, or for testing and validation purposes, will be evaluated according to this framework.’”

The idea is that developers of AI-enabled health solutions will bring their products to the Health AI Assurance Lab for assessment of their features and expected uses. The lab will contribute to emerging national standards for the evaluation of AI technologies. 

The funds will also support the constriction of physical spaces that will allow for collaboration, workforce training, and R&D focused on security infrastructure to ensure the safety of health AI products before they are put into general use. 

“Given the immense potential of AI to transform everyday life, we want to be mindful of its overall impact,” said Patrick Larkin, director of the Innovation Institute at MassTech and a member of the AI Strategic Task Force, in a statement. “That means supporting investments that ultimately provide startups and established companies with the necessary tools, methods, processes, infrastructure, and a simulated real-world environment to develop and refine their AI-driven solutions in a controlled setting. This will help promote safety and efficacy, while facilitating collaboration, data sharing, and the development of cutting-edge technologies that will further position Massachusetts as a global leader in health AI.”




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