Healthcare should broaden efforts to scale genAI, say IT leaders

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The Deloitte 2024 Healthcare Generative AI Outlook study released this week takes a closer look at potential blind spots leaders may have as they implement generative artificial intelligence.

WHY IT MATTERS

In the new report, Deloitte researchers said 70% of the executives surveyed were highly focused on data availability, quality, compliance, security and privacy during implementation, but they “may miss the imperative.” 

“A traditional data-focused approach to implementing [genAI] could be too narrow, highlighting the potential need for a broader strategy,” the researchers offered before diving into the three factors that less than 60% of the surveyed executives are focused on.

In their report, they say successful generative AI integration will require healthcare leaders to shift their focus from such data-focused transformation.

“Consumer trust hangs in the balance,” Deloitte authors pointed out in a separate analysis on the emergence of generative AI in healthcare.

“Generative AI can either deepen and restore trust or exacerbate mistrust and introduce new skepticism among consumers and healthcare stakeholders alike,” they said of the technology’s potential.

If healthcare organizations are to increase their chances of success integrating genAI into their workflows, they’ll be wise to choose a transformational approach that drives ethics and trust as much as organizational change, the Deloitte researchers advised in the new report.

They recommend that healthcare leaders pay greater attention to the low-focus areas – what they call generative AI implementation blind spots – that emerged from their study. 

Their study of those presently working to develop and implement natural language processing, machine learning and other AI-driven technologies into their health systems concluded that:

  1. Effective governance is lost among other data priorities.
  2. They aren’t paying enough attention to what matters most to patients.
  3. Investing in and responding to workforce needs remains underwhelming. 

GenAI governance is key to building both consumer and employee trust, the Deloitte researchers said.

“Implementing a governance model, inclusive of data, is important to help ensure the effective use and quality of data, mitigate data bias for equitable design and safeguard patient privacy.” 

They also noted that developing trust is about more than educating patients about AI and its risks because they are seeking greater transparency into “how their data is used and who’s using it.”

“With less of a focus on what’s important to the consumers, healthcare organizations may find that trust and engagement levels drop,” the Deloitte researchers warned in the report. 

Third, healthcare leaders surveyed focused less attention on workforce upskilling (63%), addressing employee concerns while reassuring their trust (60%) and change management (57%) when comparing the sector to other industries. 

They said that generally, early AI adopters “see more value in using the technology to upskill and reskill their employees than reducing costs by eliminating jobs.”

THE LARGER TREND

Ahead of his presentation at the HIMSS AI in Healthcare Forum in November, Tom Hallisey, digital health strategy lead at the Healthcare Association of New York and a board member at Columbia Memorial Health, said healthcare organizations need to focus on a measurable goal when implementing AI

To incorporate AI into a healthcare organization’s roadmap, it’s “important to have top leaders in the selection process ensuring decisions are based on the current leading organizational strategies and most significant concerns,” he said. 

According to Dr. Justin Norden, partner at GSR Ventures, genAI will see massive growth and wider adoption this year.

“While 2023 was filled with hype and discussion around generative AI, few health systems had developed definitive strategies for the emerging technology, and even fewer implemented applications outside of isolated pilot projects with highly targeted use cases,” he told Healthcare IT News in December.

But Norden sees some guardrails emerging, too – chiefly, “a lack of regulatory guidance or standardization designed to protect both patient safety and provider liability risk” that will require provider organizations to “essentially regulate their own AI algorithms and related vendors.” 

ON THE RECORD

“By addressing consumer and workforce considerations alongside the data considerations, healthcare organizations can pave the way for a future in which generative AI not only augments healthcare delivery but does so equitably, without bias, in a trustworthy and ethical way, along with a personal touch,” the Deloitte researchers concluded in their report.

Andrea Fox is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Email: afox@himss.org

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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