Stewart says providers who wait for competitors to make the ROI airtight or the technology iron-clad proven before they wade into AI will find themselves at a disadvantage.
"It's something you have to realize organizationally," he says. "It is something absolutely critical that your competition and the rest of the world is going to do, and it does shift the curve so significantly that if you are not adept in this space you are not going to be competitive in the very near future."
When to take the AI plunge
Harvard's Kohane says we'll know that AI has gone mainstream in healthcare when AI companies from outside of traditional care delivery begin poaching patients. For example, Kohane says 23andMe, the personal genomics and biotechnology company, was at first justifiably derided by the genomics community, which challenged the accuracy of the data used by the company. Then they got better, fast.
"They've matured. Now they have large population data sets and they have improved their algorithms, and they have FDA approval to move ahead and provide more clinical advice," Kohane says. "That is clearly happening outside of healthcare and geneticists, and consumers are driving that forward. You're seeing AI/machine learning applied to genomic data sets more and more, and if you start seeing interesting combinations of genomics and wearable and clinical data being directly marketed to patients, that is a good sign that it's ripe to get into it before you're disrupted."
John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.