This summer, KPCB partner Mary Meeker’s 2017 Internet Trends report singled out healthcare as a sector ripe with opportunity. The report proposed that the healthcare market, driven by a number of converging technologies, is approaching a “digital inflection point” and is currently positioned for rapid growth.
This is an understatement.
Due to increasing digitization of inputs since 2013, the amount of global healthcare data has been increasing 48 percent year-on-year, according to Meeker’s research. With the rising availability (and accompanying burden) of such rich informational resources, medical and healthcare practices are being reimagined on every front. Leveraging this explosion of data will create a complete transformation of both markets and service delivery norms. Data-consuming AI solutions will occupy a central role in this revolution.
Meeker’s analysis highlighted the opportunities surrounding digital innovation in patient empowerment and health management, improvements to clinical pathways and protocols, and preventative health. Innovation in each of these areas is inextricably tied to AI and machine-assisted processes. But what will AI-enhanced healthcare look like in practice?
Data-driven AI technologies are well suited to address chronic inefficiencies in health markets, potentially lowering costs by hundreds of billions of dollars, while simultaneously reducing the time burden on physicians. These technologies can be leveraged to capture the massive volume of data that describes a patient’s past and present state, project potential future states, analyze that data in real time, assist in reasoning about the best way to achieve patient and physician goals, and provide both patient and physician constant real-time support. Only AI can fulfill such a mission. There is no other solution.
Technologist and investor Vinod Khosla posited that 80 percent of what human physicians currently do will soon be done instead by technology, allowing physicians to focus their time on the really important elements of patient physician interaction. He wasn’t talking about the advent of robot doctors. He was referring to the manual data consumption and generation processes that currently consume so much of the physician’s time — and are much better suited to AI. Juniper Research analysis estimates that the use of chatbots in healthcare customer service alone can produce an “average time savings of just over 4 minutes per enquiry, equating to average cost savings in the range of $0.50-$0.70 per interaction.” Or consider the bothers of billing codification or data entry: These are time-eating, easily automatable tasks that neither justify nor require the skill level of the doctor. Such chores can and should be delegated to AI.
Image Credit: ktsdesign / Shutterstock