The buzz around generative AI, like ChatGPT, is hard to ignore. Its seemingly endless applications hold great promise, but the real challenge lies in pinpointing the most fitting use cases – especially in healthcare. This industry isn’t known for rapid change, and the risks of ill-suited technology deployment can be immense. Remember IBM’s Watson Health? It was hailed as the solution to complex cancer problems but ultimately fell short.
To assess the early adoption of enterprise-ready generative AI in healthcare, we can follow a five-step approach:
- Identify problems the technology can address effectively.
- Locate significant areas plagued by these problems.
- Analyze the triggers and obstacles for adopting the technology in top use cases.
- Evaluate the business dynamics for entering high-priority categories.
- Examine the levers for creating a comprehensive solution, including technology and other aspects such as workflow consulting and patient education.
In healthcare, generative AI applications differ from other deep learning uses, such as medical image interpretation or population health data analysis. Generative AI is relatively new, but already it’s solving some critical problems.
While we tend to associate medical care with high-level decisions and in-depth data analysis, much of the industry involves mundane tasks that are notoriously hard to automate or standardize. Interpreting unstructured data, for example, summarizing physician notes, managing prior authorization requests, and analyzing clinical trial data, is relatively simple for a generative AI program like ChatGPT.
Moreover, as a language generator, it can assist with:
- Explaining data coherently: assisting in customer service for health insurers, providing diagnoses, and developing treatment plans.
- Engaging in conversation: obtaining screening data and offering talk therapy for low-acuity behavioral health issues.
- Generating new ideas: exploring proteomics and genomics datasets to discover new drugs and alternative uses for existing therapies.
Understanding the triggers and obstacles for adopting generative AI will help identify viable use cases. For example, without FDA approval, AI cannot provide definitive diagnoses or treatment plans in the United States. However, emerging markets with overwhelmed clinicians and less stringent regulations might prove more receptive. Rapid innovation adoption patterns – low dependencies, high need, and low risk/switching cost – can also indicate potential use cases, such as self-paid talk therapy.
Business dynamics, including unit and scale economics, market channels, sales processes, and competitive intensity, will provide insight into which markets are entered first. While a detailed analysis is beyond the scope of this article, these factors are crucial to consider.
Lastly, a comprehensive solution is vital for the widescale uptake of novel technology like generative AI. This often involves training customers and building an ecosystem of complementary offerings. A well-rounded solution also helps companies differentiate their products as competitors replicate the core technology.
Healthcare and life sciences professionals can take an alternative approach by focusing on key challenges and considering holistic solutions – generative AI being one of many possible options.
Despite being a conservative industry, healthcare offers numerous near-term opportunities for enterprise-grade generative AI. With diverse use cases, we can anticipate transformative change in the not-so-distant future.