Plenary 6: Artificial Intelligence & Public Health: Hysteria, Hype, or Hope?

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Recorded On: 03/21/2024

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Just as AI has led to the advent of precision medicine, it also has the potential to facilitate improved targeting of population health interventions and policy to populations that are most in need and to modernize disease and risk factor surveillance. In this talk I will review opportunities and challenges associated with the use of AI for public health and discuss six key priorities for successful use of AI technologies that will enable effective and equitable use of AI by public health organizations and facilitate precision public health.

Dr. Smyser is the CEO of PGP, a public health nonprofit that has been employing natural language processing, machine learning, and artificial intelligence for many years. PGP is at the center of several large global initiatives that use AI for health communications. In this talk, Dr. Smyser will share what is already being done with AI for health communications, as well as what's on the horizon. Things are changing fast, and there are near, medium, and long-term evolutions in health communications that practitioners need to be aware of. This talk isn't hype, doesn't use jargon, and is not academic. The goal is to provide practical insights from one public health professional to others.

Participants should leave this webinar being able to: 

1. Identify at least two organizational elements that should be addressed by public health organizations engaging in AI for the benefit of the public’s health. 

2. Explain how to utilize ChatBot and other data sources to identify health-related misinformation and disinformation that can influence the beliefs, attitudes and behavior of populations 

Competencies that will be covered include: 



Stacey Fisher

PhD, Epidemiologist

Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

Dr. Stacey Fisher is a population health researcher and epidemiologist with the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute in Ottawa, Canada. She has expertise in population health research including the development and use of predictive risk algorithms, equitable artificial intelligence for public health, web-based risk communication, and health services research using large administrative health data. She received her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Ottawa, after which she worked with Public Health Ontario, funded by a national Health System Impact Fellowship in equitable artificial intelligence. In this position she built capacity for machine learning among Canadian public health professionals, and advised the development of both national and provincial strategies for using artificial intelligence for public health.

Joe Smyser


The Public Good Projects

Dr. Joe Smyser is the Chief Executive Officer of PGP. Dr. Smyser has created the strategies for several of the world’s largest and most successful behavior change campaigns and programs. The methodologies he has championed, such as media monitoring for disease surveillance, disseminating health information through community influencers and organizations, and rigorous peer-review regardless of a program’s scale, are now widely recognized as best practices.

He is an advocate for leveraging the tools and techniques of private industry for public health, increasing public-private partnerships, and fostering private industry innovation for the public good. Dr. Smyser’s academic background includes a PhD and masters in public health and a postdoc at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through its evaluation fellowship. Additionally, he interned at the U.S. Food & Drug Administration within the Office of International Programs. He is a returned Peace Corps volunteer, having served in Swaziland. A regular and dynamic speaker and trainer, Dr. Smyser frequently delivers keynote addresses and contributes as a panelist with other experts. He has been a full-time instructor at Columbia University and San Diego State University.


Plenary 6: AI and Public Health
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