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Lee Davis

Healthcare? More like HealthcAIre

Artificial intelligence takes center stage at HIMSS24

Mar 17, 2024 8:00:00 PM


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Earlier in March, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) held its annual event, which carried a theme of “Creating Tomorrow’s Healthcare.” Based on the HIMSS24 opening keynote, tomorrow’s healthcare will be built on a foundation of artificial intelligence (AI). It doesn’t seem plausible that the healthcare industry will be able to overcome all its problems without it.


In the keynote titled “Personalizing the Patient Experience: Harnessing the Power of AI to Drive Real Transformational Change”, Hal Wolf (CEO of HIMSS),  Robert Garret (CEO of Hackensack Meridian), and Matt Renner (President of Startups for Google Cloud) discussed how AI will help us increase access to healthcare, build healthier communities, detect diseases earlier, discover better drug formulas faster, prevent burnout in the healthcare industry, as well as bridge the gap between our aging population and healthcare worker shortage.


The Healthcare Industry Needs AI

Like many other industries, the healthcare industry is dealing with its own labor problems, and the outlook is bleak. Society cannot produce enough caregivers to keep up with the number of people who require care, and this trend doesn’t appear as if it will change directions any time soon. The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a shortage of nearly 200,000 nursing professionals by 2031, while the Association of American Medical Colleges projects a shortage of 124,000 physicians over the next 12 years. This problem is exacerbated by our aging population. According to Garrett, the number of people over 60 will double by 2050.


In other words, demand for healthcare is increasing while the capacity to provide it is decreasing.



But the problems don’t stop there. There are several systemic problems that create health inequity, limit access to healthcare, and inhibit good healthcare practices. According to Garrett, AI can help us offset these problems.

  • AI will reduce burnout: Most people get into healthcare because they want to help people. They don’t want to spend their entire day buried in paperwork and mulling through EHRs—they want to be bedside, saving lives. AI will handle the mundane tasks that contribute to increased burnout rates, ensuring that healthcare professionals don’t leave the field.
  • AI will improve access to care: About 25% of Americans don’t have a primary care provider. When you zoom in on the under-30 crowd, that number jumps to 50%. Chatbots are enabling healthcare organizations to do more with less, so they can take on more patients rather than turn them away.
  • AI will improve outcomes and overall value: Predictive analytics will enable healthcare providers to identify and treat disease in earlier stages, provide personalized treatment, and discover better drugs. It will also create efficiencies in the back office, making healthcare more affordable.
  • AI will foster health equity: AI will help us identify solutions to social determinants of health—such as the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age—that shape the conditions of daily life.
  • AI will be a vital tool for dealing with climate change: According to Garrett, the impact of climate change will claim 250,000 lives a year. AI will help us discover new solutions to combat climate change, thus reducing its negative impact on the global population’s health.


Keypoint Intelligence Opinion

The multifaceted challenges that pervade our healthcare systems, from health equity and access issues to the rising demand and workforce shortages, underscore the urgency for innovative solutions. In AI, we have a beacon of hope, providing not only a band-aid but a potential overhaul for the strained infrastructure of healthcare services. But it’s not just the technology that will predict new drug formulas or help doctors spot problems earlier. It’s also about technology that can handle the little things—patient communications, patient onboarding, billing, and all the other mundane yet vital processes—so care providers can spend more time with patients and improve overall quality of care.


The role of technology providers (you, dear reader) in this context cannot be overstated. As the architects of your healthcare customers’ digital future, your expertise, innovation, and vision are critical in paving the way for a healthcare system that is not only more efficient and accessible but also more equitable and responsive to the needs of its diverse populace. We urge technology providers to delve deep into the intricacies of healthcare challenges, to empathize with the struggles of healthcare providers and their patients, and to commit to the noble cause of modernizing healthcare services. This is not just an opportunity for business growth, but a call to partake in a significant societal transformation where the benefits of technology are leveraged to uplift and heal.


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