Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) have already seen some successes in self-driving cars, smart homes and manufacturing that we used to believe could only happen in our fantasies. These technologies are pushing the limits of innovation and raising expectations with every passing day. It’s exciting to think of the potential AI holds for empowering patients to manage their health more actively and successfully outside of a hospital, and for bringing physicians closer to their patients.
According to a poll taken after HIMSS17, 34% of HIT respondents are researching AI and 20% are either actively planning or deploying these technologies right now. Working at Nuance, I see breakthroughs in this technology every day, from giant leaps in the accuracy of speech recognition and language understanding to proactive consumer engagement or conversational assistants that provide communication, critical thinking and support for physicians providing patient care, charting or placing orders. AI powered computer-assisted physician documentation (CAPD) went from being relatively unknown or understood to something physicians are seeking as a tool to help give them back time in their busy days.
I believe in the next two years, AI will follow the same path as the cloud in the healthcare industry. Once feared particularly by healthcare administrators, cloud technology is now widely accepted and sought after because cloud-based solutions are light and easy to deploy, and offer clear benefits to both IT staff and end users. It helps caregivers and information move with patients while adhering to tight requirements for security and privacy of personal health information (PHI) of patients. AI in medicine has its own hurdles to overcome, but nobody really believes that machines will replace physicians. A self-service model where patients are more actively involved in their own care is on the horizon, and physicians need more visibility to patients’ adherence and health to support it.
AI technologies, which are helping physicians with difficult or repetitive tasks today, are poised to do much more and deliver even greater clinical decision support in the exam room and in the patient’s home where information needs to flow to close the loop of care.
What does the future hold for machine learning and AI?
Wondering what the impact for these technologies will be on patients and physicians? Read more of my thoughts in CIO Review, “Machine Learning and AI: Revolutionizing the Physician/Patient Relationship.”