Could generative AI transform healthcare for the better?
One expert thinks so.
Dr. Robert M. Wachter, professor and chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, outlines why in a new essay commissioned by Microsoft.
In it, Dr. Wachter says he’s optimistic that generative AI systems like GPT-4 have the potential to reshape how healthcare works.
He makes this conclusion after putting GPT-4 through its paces in healthcare-related scenarios, saying:
“There is no question that GPT-4 represents a breathtaking advance in medical AI. I fed it a series of very tough clinical scenarios—the kinds of twisty-turny cases that challenge our very best clinicians. I found its overall clinical reasoning abilities akin to those of a very good medical resident—well beyond novice, but not quite expert.”
Wider deployment of AI in healthcare could lead to benefits like:
- Patients could use healthcare-specific AI agents to manage some of their own health conditions.
- AI could be used by non-physician providers to do work typically reserved for physicians.
- Fewer expensive specialists would be needed, since a single one can be far more productive using AI.
- General physicians could handle situations that typically require a specialist today.
- AI could significantly automate major administrative tasks like “billing and coding, documentation, patient and clinician scheduling, and supply chain management.”
This would lead to better patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.
However, Dr. Wachter cautions that “the barriers to this digital nirvana should not be minimized.” Those include:
- Resistance to change from entrenched interests within the healthcare system. They will “push back mightily against substantive changers in the flow of dollars and work.”
- Privacy and data concerns could slow down AI innovation in healthcare.
- Training of healthcare professionals and administrators will have to evolve to work with and oversee AI systems, and do so in a way that minimizes “automation complacency and overreliance on technology.”
In Episode 50 of the Marketing AI Show, I spoke to Marketing AI Institute founder and CEO Paul Roetzer to learn more about what kind of impact AI might have on healthcare. Here’s what you need to know:
- This isn’t only a healthcare story. The article provides really good lessons for other industries, says Roetzer. It’s “widely applicable to many industries that deal with sensitive data, high cost, both human and financial for AI errors.”
- The status quo is likely going to be the biggest obstacle in every industry. Wachter highlights pushback from people protecting the status quo as a core concern in healthcare AI adoption. It’s likely to be a major concern in other industries, too. “There are going to be a lot of industries and a lot of companies and a lot of executives who don't want to accept the benefits because it changes things so dramatically,” says Roetzer.
- It also highlights the Law of Uneven AI Distribution. The Law states that the value you gain from AI, and how quickly and consistently that value is realized, is directly proportional to your understanding of, access to and acceptance of the technology. Industries that have a low tolerance for adopting new technology and process won’t see massive benefits from AI. “You’re going to have to accept the technology to benefit from it,” says Roetzer.
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As Chief Content Officer, Mike Kaput uses content marketing, marketing strategy, and marketing technology to grow and scale traffic, leads, and revenue for Marketing AI Institute. Mike is the co-author of Marketing Artificial Intelligence: AI, Marketing and the Future of Business (Matt Holt Books, 2022). See Mike's full bio.