The advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) has seen an incredible leap over the past few years, and it’s no surprise that AI’s ability to process large amounts of data makes it ripe to revolutionize healthcare. In fact, health-related data represent approximately 30% of the world’s data volume. 1
IPG Health leaders who attended CES 2023 assessed the many AI healthcare use cases, as well as opportunities and pitfalls for physicians and consumers alike.
In presenting the AI, Digital Health, and the Future of Healthcare session, immediate past chair of the American Medical Association (AMA) Dr. Bobby Mukkamala elaborated on his vision for AI applications within healthcare. For physicians, Dr. Mukkamala reframed AI as “Augmented Intelligence,” pointing out how AI can augment a clinician's capability to collect, understand, and make inferences from an overwhelming volume of patient data to reach optimal clinical decisions.
Using AI to parse through data goes beyond patient health information, since AI is also useful in its ability to glean insight from seemingly unrelated data sets. Dr. Mukkamala offered a visionary example of augmented intelligence, referencing a hypothetical patient who visits his office with an ear infection. Instead of prescribing the typical remedy, his electronic health record’s “AI” recognizes this patient lives near a lake that contains a certain bacterium that can cause an ear infection. In other words, his clinical decision-making would be “augmented” by this information.
Near-term AI healthcare opportunities focus primarily on practice management, including operating at higher efficiency by controlling costs and enabling greater patient attention. Unfortunately, administrative activities have seen far less innovation than AI clinical use cases. For example, doctors can now perform remote robotic hysterectomies, but the resulting data must then be faxed to the primary care physician. AI offers boundless opportunities to create workflow efficiencies and eliminate waste in a time when healthcare margins are already razor thin.
Are physicians ready to adopt emerging technologies?
According to the AMA, nearly 20% of physicians are currently using AI for their practices. Nearly 40% plan to adopt AI within the next year. And nearly 60% believe technology can help in key areas such as chronic disease and preventive care. The AMA’s position provides guidance that AI solutions must solve for at least one of the following:
Improve patient care
Improve overall healthcare outcomes
However, the adoption of new and emerging technology is met with some skepticism. A level of transparency into the algorithms, physician involvement in development and piloting (even co-creation), and improvement in data interoperability among systems are critical mechanisms that must be employed to encourage adoption.
To better connect the world of medicine with the health technology ecosystem, the AMA has founded and funded two valuable programs. The Physician’s Innovation Network is a matchmaking tool that helps connect clinicians with innovators. Health2047, so named for the future 200th anniversary of the AMA’s creation, is a Silicon Valley innovation firm that supports early-stage startups on their journey to transform healthcare. One startup in their portfolio, Phenomix Sciences, offers a platform using AI to examine biological samples and patient assessments and data to assign phenotypes that help predict how their body will respond to different obesity treatment paths.
Physicians see the benefit AI offers their practice, especially to “augment” intelligence
Consider how your brand could utilize AI to bring clinical or operational value
To drive adoption and reduce skepticism, make sure to include physicians early in the AI development and piloting process
At this year’s CES, it seemed that AI applications in the consumer space were being repurposed from existing mass-market products.
Labrador Systems, funded by iRobot (makers of Roomba) and Amazon, among others, created a robot that helps those with physical impairments move items around the home. We can now ask “Lab” to go retrieve anything from medicine to drinks in the fridge. iRobot now integrates with Amazon’s Echo Show 10, enabling a more conversational interaction. Same AI as robot vacuums, new use case.
Another example was AARP’s AgeTech Collaborative. Voiceitt caught our attention. This company extends the application of voice assistants using machine learning to transcribe nonstandard speech to text, notes, and emails. Making voice-driven commands for home automation tasks could be a game changer for those with speech and movement impairment. Same AI as voice assistants, new use case.
There were countless other examples of virtual caregivers and home monitoring technologies that leveraged existing AI platforms in new and unique ways to improve patients’ lives, and many of these were open to partnership agreements with healthcare organizations.
- Pharma and biotech lean toward building experiences, but the market is ripe with partnership and white-label opportunities
- Pilot: these initiatives don’t need to be massive upfront investments
- Leverage what’s available and tailor it for your purpose
- New innovations can be significant accelerators in offering patients value “beyond the pill”
By Desiree Barreras, Director, Media Strategy at SOLVE(D); Matt Hall, Director, Content Creation at StudioRx; Franklin Williams, Director, Experience Design at AREA 23; and Ben Zanghi, Director, Experience Design at McCann Health New Jersey