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*Warning: This article was authored by a carbon-based, human life form.

In 1950, medical knowledge doubled every 50 years. In 2020, it doubled in 73 days…! Think you can keep up? 

My 19-year-old daughter was home on break over the holidays in 2022, and she said, "I just used this thing called ChatGPT and asked it to create a high-protein meal plan for me. It did it in less than two seconds." That began my exposure to the art of the possible in healthcare. "Wait, could this thing write meaningful clinical encounter notes?"

The global healthcare sector has been evolving rapidly in recent years, and a significant part of this evolution is the advent of advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), more specifically, large language models (LLM) and generative AI (GenAI). This technology, particularly models such as ChatGPT, is creating tremendous excitement in the healthcare sector, with experts underscoring its potential to transform the industry and promote a more equitable system. 

AI transformation promises to significantly impact the quintuple aim of healthcare, encompassing enhancements in patient experience, population health, cost reduction, the work-life of healthcare providers, and health equity.

Here is a glimpse of what we might expect.

Amplifying patient experience

In the context of patient experience, GenAI is primed to revolutionize healthcare delivery. Conversational AI, which includes AI-powered chatbots and customer service tools, can deliver quick and accurate responses, significantly improving patient interaction and overall satisfaction.

Furthermore, companies like Apple are now using GenAI to provide personalized health coaching. By integrating AI into wearable devices, they offer individualized health assessments that include sleep analysis, dietary suggestions, and even AI-generated music for stress management.

The upshot is a tailored healthcare experience that addresses each patient's unique needs. GenAI has the power to transfigure the entire consumer healthcare journey. For example, a GenAI solution might start by knowing one's specific homeostasis, environment, healthcare history, lifestyle choices, and such, course correcting through coachable empathetic conversations and communicating with the care team, care circle, and the patient for proactive intervention and health maintenance. Then it could ensure the patient has a clear understanding of their next steps, access, referrals, appointments, medications, labs and studies, and the cost of care all in a language and experience level they can appreciate.

Enhancing population health

GenAI has vast potential to enhance population health. LLMs trained to answer medical queries, like Google's Med-PaLM-2, will increasingly refine their accuracy and utility while promoting health education and awareness at a population scale. Similarly, platforms like use GenAI to predict individuals' glucose responses, empowering them to make informed dietary choices.

By facilitating these health-conscious decisions, GenAI can contribute to overall population health.

LLMs may drive better outcomes for health systems as well. If trained correctly, AI models have the potential to impact a health system's entire care population. For example, GenAI's ability to analyze large datasets and identify patterns can be crucial in identifying health trends within a population. This can enable health systems to preemptively address health issues before they become widespread, further enhancing population health.

Reducing healthcare costs

Healthcare is notorious for its escalating costs. GenAI can significantly reduce this painful reality, particularly by addressing the challenge of escalating labor costs in healthcare (the industry's highest line item). AI can streamline and automate tasks typically handled by nurses, such as documentation, care coordination, and other administrative tasks. This can create efficiencies while allowing clinical staff to work top-of-license and have more empathetic patient connections. All-in-all, happier staff, less turnover and happier patients all impact revenue.

Additionally, GenAI has the capacity to scale our most precious resources in healthcare — our clinicians. As it stands, we will always need more physicians, nurses and supportive clinical staff. There is a significant deficit, and the system cannot produce and train talent fast enough to match the growth rate of our aging population. By 2030, all baby boomers will be 65 or older and 20 percent of people will need more chronic care management than ever before. LLMs will be able to circumvent this shortfall by bringing proactive and predictive medicine to the attention of various care teams so they can prioritize patient care appropriately.

LLMs also promise considerable strides in precision and personalized medicine, using patient data to generate curated, personalized treatment plans considering a patient's genetics, lifestyle and social determinants of health. This can improve treatment costs as well as patient satisfaction. 

Moreover, in the realm of drug discovery, a traditionally lengthy and expensive process, GenAI is proving to be an invaluable asset. Companies like Evotec are already employing GenAI for drug discovery in promising clinical trials. These advancements hint at substantial cost reductions in the future.

Improving the work-life of healthcare providers

GenAI solutions won't just benefit patients. They'll also help healthcare providers. Emerging as indispensable co-pilots, GenAI tools can automate manual tasks such as inbox responses, clinical note writing, identifying healthcare gaps and misses, diagnosis assistance, high-yield report generation, billing code automation, referrals, and prior authorizations.

Such automation allows healthcare providers to focus more on direct patient care, improving job satisfaction and reducing burnout. For example, DAX Express, Microsoft and Nuance's conversational, ambient and GenAI solutions can listen to conversations and complete tedious clinical workflow documentation to alleviate much of the administrative tasks causing clinician strain.

Promoting health equity

One of the ultimate goals of healthcare is to achieve health equity, ensuring that everyone has a fair opportunity to attain their full health potential. GenAI can democratize access to healthcare information and tools, breaking down language and accessibility barriers to make healthcare genuinely universal. For instance, in areas where healthcare professionals are scarce or access is a barrier, intelligent tools like ChatGPT-4 might be able to provide critical guidance. GenAI has the ability to share the same information with a Mayo Clinic physician and a villager in Cuchillo Parado, MX, yet curated at a level each audience can appreciate.

Addressing challenges

As with any innovative technology, GenAI is accompanied by its own set of challenges. Data privacy, bias and establishing trust in AI outputs are all vital concerns that must be addressed. As AI ethicist Stefan Harrer proposed, we require a robust ethical framework that includes principles for human oversight, data transparency, privacy protection, and accountability in training data and AI-generated content. To learn more about the importance of designing, developing and deploying AI systems in a safe, ethical and fair manner, we recommend becoming familiar with UNESCO's 11 tenets of Responsible AI.

Despite the substantial benefits of GenAI, regulatory challenges perist. The debate over regulating AI continues globally, with the primary concern being who will take the lead in this process. Problems like privacy, bias and national security must also be addressed. Europe has taken the lead with the approval of the AI Act. Meanwhile, in the U.S., there's competition among Congress, the Biden Administration and federal agencies to establish regulations, with the White House issuing an executive order on AI in 2023. Such regulatory developments will significantly determine the extent and speed of AI adoption in healthcare.

Successfully integrating GenAI into health systems must also address the issue of job displacement. It is crucial to emphasize that AI is an assistive tool rather than a replacement for human healthcare providers. We must approach this transition as an opportunity to redefine roles rather than eliminate them. AI will not replace clinicians. However, those who choose to ignore AI do so at their own peril.

In conclusion

GenAI holds incredible promise for the industry, offering the potential to achieve healthcare's quintuple aims. We must ensure it is integrated responsibly into our healthcare system, maximizing its potential benefits while minimizing potential risks.

By harnessing AI's potential, we can enhance the patient experience, improve population health, reduce costs, better the work-life of healthcare providers, and move toward health equity. However, realizing this vision requires great care to navigate ethical considerations, privacy and security concerns, and workforce implications. That's why WWT built its AI Proving Ground — a dedicated AI lab environment that healthcare systems can leverage to accelerate their ability to experiment, test and innovate with hands-on access to the latest AI hardware, software and reference architectures — all in a secure, scalable and transparent manner.

The rise of GenAI reminds me of a cautionary tale — A Twilight Zone episode of an alien species that arrives on Earth with superior intelligence and benevolent motives. The humans saw the aliens as altruistic, providing world leaders with advanced technologies to eliminate war and famine and solutions for free clean energy. They also left a book for government officials in their alien language. Cryptographers could only translate the title of the book, To Serve Man. After trust between the two species was established, humans were excited to board the UFOs to visit their home planet. In true Twilight Zone fashion, the plot twist feels eerily precise: The book was not meant to help humans but to prepare them as a meal. It was a cookbook!

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