Artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare is hailed as the major driving force behind many innovative breakthroughs. Yet, there is a long way to go before AI reaches its full potential for transforming the industry. Most notably, AI in healthcare is primarily focused on the clinical breakthroughs without consideration of administrative tasks that organizations so commonly struggle to scale. To reach the full potential that AI offers, healthcare must broaden how it applies this innovation.
What Is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial intelligence or AI is simply when a machine can complete a human-like task with limited manual intervention. A classic example of AI is the ability to play chess with the computer as the opponent. AI was once thought of as science fiction but as the field of computer science has advanced, it has enabled machines to now be capable of learning. Machine learning leverages previous tasks, data and inputs to improve its output over time, so that the computer playing chess eventually learns to out-maneuver its human opponent.
State of AI in Healthcare
The healthcare industry has embraced AI and machine learning to further advances in medical care. Medical breakthroughs leveraging AI have become a regular staple of the news cycle with headlines touting how AI has outpaced its human counterparts. For example, in a recent study, AI detected lung cancer at a far better rate than radiologists (AJMC).
Why Healthcare Needs AI
The potential of AI cannot be understated. AI synthesizes vast amounts of data to make decisions and output results at a far greater rate than processes that rely on manual tasks. In an industry like healthcare, where skilled labor shortages are widespread (HFMA) and massive amounts of data is collected daily, AI can advance the industry using existing resources while not significantly increasing costs.
Future of AI in Healthcare
While the clinical side of the industry has embraced AI, the administrative side has not. In fact, much of healthcare payments rely on paper and manual processes:
- 70% of providers leverage paper and manual processes for check-in (Provider Healthcare Payments Survey 2018)
- 90% of providers leverage paper and manual processes for collections (Provider Healthcare Payments Survey 2018)
To truly transform the healthcare industry, the depth of AI’s reach will need to be broadened to include not only medical breakthroughs but overhaul these administrative processes that are a growing drain on an organization’s resources. The area of greatest promise for AI in the administrative side is personalized or smart medical bills, which recognizes that not all consumers want the same billing and payment experience. When healthcare brings the promises of AI to both clinical and administrative workflows, only then can AI reach its full potential in the industry.