Anthem seeks to fuel AI efforts with petabytes of synthetic data

Anthem Inc.

news director says he works with Alphabet Inc.

Google Cloud to build a synthetic data platform that will enable the health insurance company to better detect fraud and provide personalized care to its members.

Anil Bhatt said the plan is to use algorithms and statistical models to generate about 1.5 to 2 petabytes of synthetic data, including artificially generated datasets of medical histories, health care claims and medical records. other key medical data, created in partnership with Google Cloud.

The ultimate goal, he said, is to validate and train AI algorithms on large amounts of data, while reducing privacy concerns related to personal medical information. “Increasingly…synthetic data is going to overtake and be how people use AI in the future,” Bhatt said.

Anthem, which uses Amazon.com Inc.

Amazon Web Services, a cloud provider since 2017, tapped Google Cloud last year for its data analytics and AI capabilities as part of an ongoing effort to become more customer-centric. and focus on members’ entire healthcare journeys, Bhatt said. It’s an ongoing effort that includes Anthem’s work with synthetic data.

Anil Bhatt, Chief Information Officer of Anthem Inc.


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Anthem Inc.

This week, Anthem shareholders are voting on a proposal to rebrand the company to Elevance Health as part of that same effort.

Synthetic data applies to both real-world data that has been stripped of personal information and fully anonymized, artificial data that has been generated from deep generative models, said Ritu Jyoti, group vice president. Worldwide Artificial Intelligence and Automation Research from market research firm International Data Corp. Anthem said it uses the second type.

The idea of ​​synthetic data in business has been around for decades, but it has recently begun to gain momentum as businesses begin to use AI itself more and have a greater need for faster access to better datasets on which to train AI algorithms, Ms. Jyoti mentioned.

Anthem said the synthetic data will be used to validate and train AI algorithms that identify things like fraudulent claims or anomalies in a person’s health records, and those AI algorithms can then run on real-world member data.

Anthem already uses AI algorithms to find fraud and abuse in insurance claims, but the new synthetic data platform will allow it to scale. Personalizing care for members and running AI algorithms that identify when they may need medical intervention is a longer-term goal, Bhatt said.

In addition to mitigating privacy concerns, Ms. Jyoti said another benefit of synthetic data is that it can reduce the biases that exist in real-world datasets. That said, she added, you can also end up with data sets that are worse than the real world.

“The data variation is going to be very, very significant,” Bhatt said, adding that he believes the synthetic data variation will ultimately be better than the company’s real-world datasets.

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“Synthetic data models, we believe, will ultimately fuel the promise of what big data can deliver,” said Chris Sakalosky, general manager, US Healthcare & Life Science at Google Cloud. “We think that’s actually what will drive this industry forward.”

Write to Isabelle Bousquette at Isabelle.Bousquette@wsj.com

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