USFSM Regional Chancellor Karen A. Holbrook, PhD, delivered the keynote address at the University of Georgia’s 8th Annual State of the Public’s Health Conference.

USFSM’s Karen Holbrook delivers keynote at University of Georgia’s State of the Public’s Health Conference

By: John Dudley

Posted: November 01, 2019

SARASOTA, Fla. (Nov. 1, 2019)University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee Regional Chancellor Karen A. Holbrook delivered a presentation last week at the University of Georgia’s 8th Annual State of the Public’s Health Conference entitled “Health Tech: New Age Technologies.” Holbrook’s closing keynote presentation focused on emerging technologies in public health, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science, robotics, blockchain and the Internet of Things.

Holbrook focused her presentation on what she described as a demand for the development and adoption of digital technologies as part of a “health IT ecosystem” designed to transform and revolutionize healthcare in urban centers and remote sites.

She advocated for the need to engage technologies such as artificial intelligence to democratize access to healthcare by improving the timeliness and accuracy of decision-making, facilitating disease-monitoring and surveillance and empowering patients to manage their own health status.

Driving this demand, Holbrook said, are factors that include the rise of chronic conditions globally, a growing elderly population, overextended health services, dispersed medical data, and misdiagnoses, late diagnoses and over-diagnoses that kill millions of people and cost tens of billions of dollars.

Holbrook identified the following data-driven tools that will fuel future population health management efforts and improve patient treatment, monitoring and management:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools, methods and algorithms that make computers behave intelligently and continue to challenge data sharing in the health care industry.
  • Blockchain-based electronic medical record systems capable of serving individuals and communities.
  • The Internet of Things, capable of capturing data from mobile applications, smart devices and wearables.
  • Emerging technology providing better insight faster and increased service efficiencies and accuracy.
  • Health intelligence that can improve patient treatment, individual and population health monitoring, and health management.

In concluding her presentation, Holbrook said artificial intelligence-based tools have the potential to benefit individual patients and their families, ease healthcare worker stress and physician workload and benefit communities by improving overall public health outcomes. However, she cautioned against overlooking the role people must continue to play in healthcare.

“Humans still have the opportunity to take the reins, make hard choices and shape the future of patient care. It requires more than technology,” she said. “Technical knowledge combined with human skills, emotional intelligence, ethics and values and judgment are needed to manage healthcare both locally and globally.”

Dr. Chris Whalen

Karen and Jim Holbrook, a retired physical oceanographer, established the Karen and Jim Holbrook Distinguished Professorship and Graduate Fellowship in Global Health at Georgia’s College of Public Health in 2015. She served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at the university from 1998-2002 and was instrumental in the creation of Georgia’s College of Public Health. She was an active biomedical researcher before a successful career in academic administration.

Christopher Whalen, MD, was named to the first Karen and Jim Holbrook Distinguished Professorship in Global Health in September. Whalen’s research and clinical activities focus on Sub-Saharan Africa, especially Uganda, where he aims to improve current methods and strategies for tuberculosis control and to improve clinical care for tuberculosis among HIV-infected persons.

“I was very honored to be part of the conference and to learn more about Dr. Whalen’s work,” Holbrook said. “The University of Georgia College of Public Health has been highly successful, and to me public health, and particularly Dr. Whalen’s work globally, is critically important to everything we do and everyone we meet.” For more information about USF Sarasota-Manatee, visit

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