Episode 274

Unlocking Healthcare's Unstructured Data Troves with Dr. Tim O’Connell

Published on: 6th May, 2024

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Episode Overview: 

Clinicians are drowning in a deluge of unstructured medical data, struggling to efficiently extract critical insights that could improve patient care and outcomes. Our next guest, Dr. Tim O'Connell, is taking on this monumental challenge as the co-founder and CEO of emtelligent.

With a unique background spanning IT, radiology, and medical informatics, Tim experienced firsthand the limitations of existing natural language processing tools in healthcare settings. Driven to develop a powerful solution, he founded emtelligent to harness cutting-edge AI and language models.

While together, Tim shares his pioneering journey building emtelligent's innovative technology that structures overwhelming volumes of unstructured patient data and how he and his colleagues are empowering healthcare organizations to operate more efficiently, reduce physician burnout, and unlock data-driven insights to transform care quality.

Join us to learn from Tim and how the emtelligent team is unlocking healthcare's unstructured data troves. Let’s go! 

Episode Highlights:

  • Tim's advice: Get out and make a change, find a business partner with complementary skills ("your Anoop", his co-founder)
  • Origin story: Seeing limitations of existing NLP tools, partnering with NLP expert Dr. Anoop Sarkar
  • Cutting-edge technology: Structuring massive volumes of unstructured medical data with advanced language AI
  • Powerful use cases: Transforming needle-in-a-haystack data challenges, drastically reducing manual chart review workloads
  • Future vision: AI-augmented healthcare teams over next 2-5 years, reducing burnout by automating drudgery tasks

About our Guest: 

Dr. Tim O’Connell is a practicing radiologist in Vancouver and cofounded emtelligent in 2016. He has served as vice chair of medical informatics in the University of British Columbia’s Department of Radiology since 2017. Prior to his clinical and entrepreneurial careers, Dr. O’Connell worked as an IT professional for Nortel Networks and Bell, where he was director of engineering for the Bank of Montreal account.

Early in his career, Dr. O’Connell realized that radiologists were often tasked with a volume of work that didn’t afford them the time needed to carefully review and understand each patient's clinical history. In 2015, he met Dr. Anoop Sarkar, a widely published Ph.D. and full professor of natural language processing (NLP) and artificial intelligence. Dr. Sarkar shared Tim’s interest in medical language processing and desire to develop meaningful solutions that would have a positive impact on the lives of patients and care providers. It quickly became obvious to both that they were perfectly matched to solve the problem Tim had identified, together bringing a powerful combination of deep clinical and data science expertise. 

emtelligent was officially formed when Drs. O’Connell and Sarkar joined forces with Jeff O'Connell, an experienced technology operations management leader; and Dan Carriere, a seasoned expert in building and scaling biomedical startup ventures, adding experienced entrepreneurship and business leadership to the team. Collectively, the team successfully built and launched emtelliPro®, one of the industry's first deep-learning-based Medical Language Understanding engines.

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Passionate Pioneers with Mike Biselli
Healthcare and Innovation
Passionate Pioneers with Mike Biselli, a nationally ranked healthcare and innovation podcast, and a member of the Health Podcast Network, highlights the innovators, the game changers, and the pioneers who are deeply passionate and relentless in valiantly solving the problems our healthcare industry is facing.
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Mike Biselli

Community Builder | Health-tech Entrepreneur | Podcaster | TEDx Speaker | Dedicated to Reimagining Healthcare