There is no doubt as to whether artificial intelligence is poised to disrupt an array of industries and disciplines – be it marketing or healthcare. AI holds the potential to address massive pitfalls specific to healthcare – ranging from administrative tasks like speeding the input of patient notes into the electronic health record, to clinical impacts such as predicting the type of treatments that will be most impactful with a specific patient. Nonetheless, there remains a healthy dose of skepticism as far as what’s possible – today and into the future – when it comes to AI in healthcare.

This skepticism is particularly pervasive in healthcare. From regulatory hurdles to complex workflows to specialized clinical insights that are steeped in years of medical training, the application of AI in healthcare is uniquely complex. After all, the end impact of AI in a healthcare environment can mean the difference between life and death. The same simply can’t be said for the application of AI in finance, retail or marketing.

Despite varying perspectives on the potential and future of AI in healthcare, a few threads of shared truth came through at a recent event hosted by Xconomy – Healthcare + A.I.  Those AI in healthcare truths are as follows:

  • AI technology should be built by the people that will use it to be truly impactful
  • You still need people – to humanize and quality check – to realize the full value of AI
  • The greatest realized impact of AI in healthcare today is specific to streamlining workflow and automating tasks so that clinicians can focus first and foremost on direct patient care
  • Healthcare organizations don’t understand what they’re “buying” when it comes to AI technology, which can deter adoption
  • The empowered patient movement is fueling interest in tools to help everyday consumers self diagnose and act as leads in their own health and wellness initiatives

From reducing costly medical errors to increasing the speed and accuracy of diagnosis, there remains unlimited potential for the application of AI in healthcare. While some vendors and futurists may be over-promising and under delivering as far as the state of AI in healthcare today, there is promise in the ability for AI to help the entire healthcare industry – from payer to provider to pharma and the patient – to confront massive challenges in the form of improving quality and reducing costs of care. At a human level, the potential of AI in healthcare is equivalent to a saved life. 

Case in point, on my way to the Xconomy event today that I am writing about here, my Uber driver shared that his sister in Israel just got diagnosed with cancer and that he is heading home to help care for her. I walked into the Xconomy event thinking about the chances of survival for his sister based on her specific type of cancer. I walked out wondering whether the clinicians overseeing her care had access to AI technology – and what impact that could undoubtedly have her on her survival.

Katie McGraw-Paul
Vice President, Healthcare 


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