October 31, 2017
By: Andrew Ericson

A hype-free analysis about artificial intelligence and healthcare

There has been a lot of hype surrounding artificial intelligence (AI), its capabilities, and its potential, but what exactly is AI and how it will impact health? Accenture defines AI in health as a collection of multiple technologies enabling machines to sense, comprehend, act and learn so they can perform administrative and clinical healthcare functions. Unlike legacy technologies that are only algorithms/tools that complement a human, health AI today can truly augment human activity. These technologies can include natural language processing, intelligent agents, computer vision, machine learning, expert systems, autonomous cars, chatbots and voice recognition. AI is expected to generate nearly $150 billion of value for the health economy. To capture this value for your organization, it’s important to avoid misinformation and get the facts.

Myth 1: AI is nothing more than hype, I don’t need to be concerned about it.

AI is here now and is here to stay. While there have been many overhyped artificial intelligence “springs” before, this time is different:

  • Automation can occur whenever there is a large set of data inputs that drive known outputs. Healthcare organizations are collecting and storing more data than ever before.

  • Along with more data, advances in high-performance computing enable “deep learning” on neural networks, allowing automated tasks to achieve closer to human-level performance.

  • It won’t take a massive investment to get started with automation, the first step in implementing AI. Accenture has seen actionable automation results with investments of just $50,000. Organizations of all sizes can use AI to enjoy lower cost to serve and provide a better consumer experience.

Myth 2: AI = Robot

  • AI can LOOK like a human: Meet “Molly,” the virtual assistant developed by “She” has a smiling face, a pleasant voice and uses machine learning to help patients manage their care between doctor visits. and a leading public health service in Europe teamed up to create a simple-to-use, free mobile app that provides improved access to local services.”

  • AI can SEE like a human: Enlitic uses deep learning to interpret medical data into better diagnoses by physicians and patient outcomes. In partnership with Capitol Health, Enlitic can automatically detect lung cancer nodules in chest CT images 50 percent more accurately than an expert panel of thoracic radiologists.

  • AI can EMPATHIZE like a human: AI will become a tour de force in mental health. Companies like are using patient-generated information to create personalized mental health treatment plans. We are even starting to see facial recognition companies (e.g., Kairos) master the art of detecting human emotion. Wysa, a compassionate AI chatbot for behavioral health, goes a step further by being able to detect how a user is feeling based on a variety of phone sensors.

Myth 3: AI will replace humans

  • There is no clear path to “sentient AI.” AI is much better at supporting humans, as opposed to replacing them. Applying AI can help to improve productivity of healthcare professionals, such as physicians and nurses, helping to addressing shortfalls and clinician burnout.

  • New, exciting, fulfilling careers will emerge. When machines handle boring, repetitive tasks, humans are able to focus on the most interesting and engaging aspects of work.

AI is here to stay and healthcare organizations of all sizes need to be ready. Separating myth from reality is the first step to get there. Does your organization have a plan?

Accenture is in no way promoting or intending to market any one particular solution or product or otherwise offer or market a medical device or clinical solution. Each company uses its own operations to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

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