We live in the best time of human history to do biomedical research. Hardware and computation power are getting cheaper. We have the same tools that a developer in a big company uses; they are publicly available. We accumulate so much data. We can answer questions that we were not able to answer in the past because we didn't have the data or the technology. We can put the pieces together and build models that we couldn't even dream of building in the past.
The challenge is how we take advantage of these opportunities. We need to prepare our health care organizations to accept that change is a good thing. Things are moving very quickly, especially when it comes to disruptive technologies, but things are also getting easier and faster. As organizations and as individuals, how do we adapt to change and better prepare for the future?
Complex care means complex workflows
Right now, the biggest obstacle to change in health care is inefficiency in workflow. There is a lot of bureaucratic work that we have to do. We have to enter so many notes, and we are spending too much time in the electronic medical record (EMR).
We are treating more complex patients as well. In the 1960s and 70s, you had four or five health care providers touch the patient. Today, it's an average of 19. That adds a layer of complexity - especially since those providers don't communicate with each other. Information is not shared, and that leads to redundancy. When a patients goes to get a second opinion, they get the same test that I ordered the first time.
All of this contributes to burnout for physicians, nurses, and everyone you talk to in health care. About 50 -60% of physicians are burned out, and 20-30% have clinical depression.
AI for financial and clinical value
That said, I see an opportunity for artificial intelligence to help health care. Yes, there's a lot of hype, but technology can ease some of this burden that is contributing to burnout.
There are several ways we can use AI. We can automate note-taking so physicians are not spending too much time in the EMR. We can provide tools that improve efficiency around the organization to help make everyone's jobs easier, better, and faster.
The organizations that build more knowledge, expertise, and skills around using technology such as AI become more valuable - not just financial value but the quality of the care that they deliver. We are working on the Internet of Things, blockchain, and other novel technologies ourselves. If you can take these technologies and convert them to health care, you are doing something that can be very transformative.
We still have a long way to go, but there is promise if we can use artificial intelligence in the right way.