Resist the romanticism of artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning processes have the potential to improve health care. The industry is responding to that potential and is expected to increase its investment in AI by 44 percent between 2017 and 2020.

To leverage the full potential of AI, we cannot be swayed by a romantic vision of AI as the panacea for health care.

The first step in tapping into the power and benefits of AI is to take a long, hard and honest look at where your business is right now. Perhaps the first question to answer is the most obvious: What is it that you need or want to improve? If the answer is everything or most everything, beware of the romanticism of AI creeping into your evaluation process.

After you have identified what areas would be improved or transformed by AI, evaluate the state and robustness of your data and analytics capabilities. The new adage to remember is “AI with ROI.” As my colleague Steve Griffiths explains in a recent interview with HealthIT Analytics, every organization is on its own AI, analytics and innovation maturity curve, so it’s important to know exactly where you stand before you move ahead. Take an honest look at where you are on the maturity curve and how ready your organization is to make and measure the enhancements you expect from AI.

Selecting an AI vendor or partner is another area where you have to resist the pull of romanticism. Be ready to hear hype from vendors, but listen for what they can truly do for you. What do you hear most in the vendor presentation — the bells and whistles of a flashy technology or the nuts and bolts of a product for solving problems? AI is all about performance and, by extension, measuring and reaping the rewards of that performance.

Your use of AI should not rest only on your partner’s shoulders. Devote considerable resources to the implementation and change management processes needed to incorporate AI into your business processes. Similar to other organizational transformation and technology implementations, your AI efforts will fall flat if they are not embraced or even accepted by the people in your organization. Make sure leadership and front-line employees are on board and work to keep them there every step of the way.

AI holds a lot of promise to address both quality and cost challenges for your organization. Move past the romanticism of AI and into the reality by openly and honestly evaluating what processes can be enhanced and how ready your organization is to embrace change through AI.


About the author:

Mark Morsch, A-Life HeadshotMark Morsch, vice president of technology for Optum, is an innovation leader with a focus on developing products using natural language processing and other forms of artificial intelligence to help transform our health care system. Guided by the goal to deliver the right information at the right time to the right audience. Inspired to build world-class development teams that can drive innovation and surpass client expectations through creativity, engagement and hard work.

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