The chair of Harvard Medical School’s bioinformatics department, Isaac Kohane, M.D., Ph.D., highlighted that artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to make its most significant initial impact in the healthcare sector through billing and reimbursement. Here are the main points:
AI in Healthcare: Contrary to popular belief that AI would first revolutionize diagnosis or data analysis, Kohane believes its primary influence will be in the financial aspects of healthcare, specifically billing and reimbursement.
Billing and Reimbursement: AI’s deterministic and discrete data capabilities make it well-suited for managing these areas. Kohane predicts that many healthcare professionals currently working for insurance companies to vet authorizations will become redundant, as will teams focused on upcoding in hospitals, since AI can perform these tasks more efficiently.
AI’s Future in Healthcare: While Kohane acknowledges the potential of AI in healthcare, he also warns of its limitations and the need for continuous updates. He cites an example where a program developed by the electronic health record company, Epic, which was designed to predict the needs of COVID-19 patients for intensive care, was found to be inaccurate at other hospitals.
AI’s Potential: Despite the challenges, Kohane is optimistic about AI’s role in healthcare. He shared instances where AI has assisted in diagnosing rare diseases and interpreting echocardiograms. He also envisions AI-equipped nurse practitioners and physician assistants bridging the gap between the decreasing supply of primary care physicians in the U.S. and the demand for their services.
Final Thoughts: Kohane emphasized the importance of healthcare professionals embracing AI to stay ahead. He also stressed the need for mechanisms to evaluate current AI models and for clinicians to maintain control rather than ceding too much to AI.
In essence, while AI holds promise in revolutionizing various aspects of healthcare, its initial significant impact is expected to be in the business side of the industry, particularly in billing and reimbursement.