A January 29 article in Bloomberg BNA’s Health Care Daily Report, “Is Artificial Intelligence Ready for Health-Care Prime Time?,” discussed the potential impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the healthcare sector. Day Pitney’s Eric Fader was quoted in the article.Eric told Bloomberg BNA that while the increasing interoperability of electronic health records (EHRs) systems will allow “big data” companies to begin creating massive libraries of disease and treatment data, which are critical for AI, adoption won’t be quick. “I think machine learning and AI have great potential as an adjunct to our existing health-care system,” Eric said, “but the hype is way ahead of the reality and will remain so for some time.” For example, he said, IBM spent billions of dollars on its Watson Health business unit focused on identifying and treating cancer, but few hospitals have used Watson and the results have been mixed.
“If I were counsel to a deep-pocketed tech company in the AI field, I would be concerned about lawsuits by patients and their families if the company were to market its technology as a substitute for physician decision-making,” Eric added, acknowledging the inevitability of adverse events. Eric pointed out that AI could be a boon to understaffed hospitals, or to any hospital that experiences a surge of patients during a natural disaster. Even an imperfect AI system could have enormous value in triaging patients, he said, and access to an AI database could fill in coverage gaps at remote medical facilities.