Skip to main content

Artificial Intelligence: The Hope Beyond the Hype

By John Commins  
   August 29, 2017

Leap of faith

At some point, clinical and hospital leaders will have to make the leap to AI. For Blum, the leap is a necessary step for every provider, but one that must be carefully balanced.

"In the situation we are in, where there is so much financial pressure on healthcare organizations and every advantage can make a difference, the ability to deliver care more
cost-effectively and quickly makes a huge difference," he says. "At the same time, you don't want to make large investments that don't pay back quickly. I wouldn't recommend building a multimillion dollar program to start developing AI. In a smaller hospital, I would be paying attention when you see these things being offered by the well-established vendors, and they look like they can be integrated into your workflows and technology environment—that is going to be the time to jump in quickly and not lose too much of the advantage."

Stewart says that to some extent a leap of faith is necessary, "but you can inform your faith."

"How do you walk on ice?" he says. "Well, you don't sprint out like a dog and hope everything works out. You start at the thickest edge, and you're careful with your next step and you're paying attention, and if something cracks you step back. There is a way to do this with caution rather than reckless abandon. We don't want to play poker and take $200 million and push all the chips in and say we are going to have that kind of faith and hope it works out."

Stewart says look for "small chunks of specific problems" and speak to vendors who can address "$100,000 problems for a few thousand dollars."

"I'd do it in a well-controlled fashion that gives me the early learning and a comfort level with it," he says. "I might be willing to tiptoe on that ice." 

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

Get the latest on healthcare leadership in your inbox.