Physicians’ days are filled making challenging patient care decisions in short periods of time.
Recent advancements in artificial intelligence, (AI), are creating multiple opportunities for enhanced decision making in professional practices.
A number of physicians and AI experts weighed in on the topic about how AI helps improve patient care while reducing costs.
AI is the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior. The more information fed to it the smarter it gets.
AI driven technologies like Google’s DeepMind Health, and IBM’s Watson are being used in practices around the globe.
From streamlining administrative duties to increasing the time spent in front of patients, AI is proving promising. Dr Bertalan Mesko says, “Imagine how much time you as a GP would have if the administrative process would be taken care of by an AI-powered system.” As a highly sought after AI expert Dr Mesko is at the forefront of using genomics applied practically to practice. He continues, “Your only task would be to concentrate on the patient’s problem! If I could devote the time it takes now to deal with technology (inputting information, looking for papers, etc.) to patients that would be a huge step towards becoming better.”
AI also helps patients to interact with the patient care team. Dr. Iain Hennessey, Clinical Director of Innovation at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital says, “IBM’s Watson can provide a natural language interface for the delivery of general and patient specific information. Children seem to be more forthcoming in their interaction with Watson than with a doctor or nurse.”
What AI does to reduce healthcare costs.
It’s no secret health care costs are out of control.
According to Forbes, new data from eHealthInsurance.com indicate that for HMO, PPO, and POS plans, premium increases averaged about 60 percent from 2013, the last year before ACA reforms took effect, to 2017.
“That’s not sustainable for businesses today,” says Anthony Contreras, co-founder of Predictive Buyers and who in 2008 was one of the first pharmacists in the country to apply population-based algorithms and patient-specific data for improved patient outcomes and lower healthcare costs.
He continued, “When over 80% of employers are facing health plan premium increases, and a quarter of them see double digit increases, that’s a problem.”
In his latest White Report “3 AI-Profit Making Facts for Competitive Advantage” Contreras specifically outlines how costs are contained using his company’s AI based Predictive Buyers algorithm.
“We’ve implemented AI based systems matching patient to physician at cost reductions of 60% to 75% over traditional methods. This quickly creates a significant cost savings to the patient care model.” His findings will be disclosed at the Driving Force Seminar for Entrepreneurs in San Diego on February 22nd.
Big investors have noticed the problem too. Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway group announced a new venture along with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and JP Morgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon. While details are sparse some say their entry into the health-care business could revolutionize the industry; making true Bernie Sanders’ dream of affordable health care.
In addition to decreasing costs via the Predictive Buyers model, there are other ways AI is being used to help cut costs. Dr Martijn G.H. Van Oijen, Associate Professor at the Academic Medical Center University of Amsterdam. “It is the ideal additional discipline, providing up-to-date support during the tumor board meeting, but can also triage (prioritize) on beforehand the order in which patients are discussed during the tumor board meetings. External experts may then only be consulted for the first patients, which would result in a reduction of costs and efforts.”
Dr Hennessey adds, “Why wait until you have seen the doctor to tell your story? This will free up more time for practitioners to formulate plans and explain rather than basic info gathering.”
AI’s role in medicine is evolving. It’s important to adapt and be open to change to properly leverage AI for patient care, says Mesko. Adding, “We need to be ready for re-inventing ourselves several times in our career as medical professionals. Not being able to change must be really scary in a world where the only constant factor is change.”
AI’s role in cost cutting is significant. Contreras adds, “AI strips away massive cost inefficiencies allowing better patient centered care. If your day is cluttered with administrative or insurance related inefficiencies, AI can alleviate that for your practice. More patient time is what AI is about.”