What I Learned about the Power of AI at the Cleveland Clinic

Adam Thierer
4 min readMay 6, 2022


Last week, I travelled to the Cleveland Clinic for the latest field hearing of the U.S. Chamber AI Commission. (I am serving as one of the 11 Commissioners on this effort). The event featured many top doctors and scientists, as well as introductory remarks by Dr. Tom Mihaljevic, MD, CEO and President at the Cleveland Clinic. It was truly amazing to hear all the things that the Clinic was using machine learning and AI technologies to accomplish.

Dr. Mihaljevic delivered particularly powerful remarks pushing back against those who would limit the enormous potential of these technologies on ethical grounds. He noted how the exact opposite is the case. “The scalability of the good that we can provide in people’s lives is imperative, not because it’s a business imperative, it is an ethical imperative,” he said.

It was inspiring to hear the way that the Clinic and other health care facilities will be able to use AI to extend care to massive swaths of Americans in a way that was never possible in the past. Dr. Mihaljevic noted that, in the 1980s, medical information doubled roughly every 7 years. Today, by contrast, medical information is doubling EVERY 73 DAYS!! The only way to take full advantage of all that knowledge is with the power of artificial intelligence technologies.

He estimated that, today, the Cleveland Clinic is only able to reach an estimated 1.5% of Americans using traditional means of care. Fewer than 2 out of every 100 Americans are currently able to access Cleveland Clinic care in some form. But artificial intelligence can change that equation in a radical way by greatly expanding opportunities for Americans to access the benefits of Cleveland Clinic scientific knowledge and medical care. The same will be true for America’s many other world-class medical facilities, labs, and universities.

He and the others from the Clinic offered many specific examples of how their doctors and scientists are already improving and extending lives in miraculous ways using machine learning and various AI technologies. The way these technologies are revolutionizing the evaluation of pathological specimens was particularly remarkable. Tissue samples will now be able to be shared among much larger teams of medical experts, who can — with the help of algorithmic systems — work together at a distance to better understand and use all the information they will have at their fingertips. The benefits for medical learning and scientific advancement will be profound.

He also talked about how algorithms are being used to detect irregular heartbeats and diagnose degenerative brain disease (Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s) in a way that will improve or save many lives. Others from the Clinic talked about the many ways AI helps with stroke detection, and will grow even more sophisticated in coming years. Dr. Mihaljevic also highlighted how AI was the key to improving home-based medical care, which will become an essential way to help a rapidly aging population, regardless of where they live.

In sum, this is a truly remarkable opportunity for humanity. But it can only happen, Dr. Mihaljevic noted, if we get policy right and ensure that world-class medical facilities like the Cleveland Clinic can take advantage of all the new life-enriching and life-saving AI-based medical technologies. “We have a shared responsibility to bring as much good as we can to as many people in need as possible,” he concluded. This is precisely why the rapid advancement of AI is a moral and ethical imperative.

You can find a summary of the entire Cleveland Clinic event here from Michael Richards, Director of Policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Technology Engagement Center (C_TEC). A video of the entire event is below, with Dr. Mihaljevic’s remarks kicking things off. The next hearing of the U.S. Chamber AI Commission will take place on May 9th in Palo Alto.

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Adam Thierer

Analyst covering the intersection of emerging tech & public policy. Specializes in innovation & tech governance. https://www.rstreet.org/people/adam-thierer