New technology tends to make strides in furthering innovation — and also in bolstering budgets.
Artificial intelligence cost savings already show the potential to change how business is done in a range of industries. Take health care as an example: As doctors use sophisticated algorithms, image analysis and big data to detect diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and lung and skin cancer, they're catching those conditions in their earliest stages, when treatment is often easier and cheaper. The market for artificial intelligence (AI) in health care is expected to expand globally from $1.3 billion in 2019 to $10 billion by 2024.
While the science is still emerging on the scene, it seems clear that AI in health care is here to stay. Here's what your members need to know.
Artificial Intelligence Cost Savings in Patient Care
A growing body of evidence suggests that AI can help doctors diagnosis certain diseases more efficiently without forcing patients to endure extensive testing, lengthy waits and multiple specialists, procedures or medications. It does this in part by relying on deep learning, a form of AI that uses algorithms, big data and computing power to comb through symptoms, test results, medical images, doctor reports, and other information to diagnose a patient. This technology is becoming more accurate all the time — a review of studies from 2012 to 2019 found that AI can diagnose certain diseases as well as a doctor.
Tech companies are also partnering with the health care sector to develop algorithms that can predict which patients are at higher risk for certain conditions. This technology allows doctors and patients to make data-driven decisions about their care that could prevent — or at least delay — the need for costly treatment.
AI and Early Detection
As a disease progresses without treatment, it can develop complications that require additional care and make it more expensive to treat. Catching conditions in the early stages keeps costs down.
AI in health care shows promising results related to early detection. Studies have found that AI can:
- Look at patterns of skin images to determine which lesions are likely to become cancerous.
- Find facial features that indicate certain genetic diseases.
- Create better models of a patient's lungs using CT images to help a radiologist detect disease.
- Detect early warning signs of diabetes through heart rates and step counts collected by wearables.
Help Members Put AI-based Benefits to Use
Make a point of frequently communicating members' benefits and their importance. Members will be more open to the potentially life-saving advantages of AI if they know that their health plan will cover these technologies. However, they might be quick to assume that their plan doesn't include cutting-edge, AI-enabled diagnosis, resulting in high out-of-pocket costs.
As you send out regular health plan information, let members know what their insurance covers. Share data on how early disease detection lowers costs and keeps members in better health. Consider providing a list of questions members can ask their doctors about how exactly they use AI and how it benefits their health outcomes.
While the full impact of AI is yet unknown, the cost savings of artificial intelligence can help members here and now. Let them know how advances in technology are facilitating paths to better wellness, financially and physically.
Heather Kerrigan started her career in journalism at Governing magazine, reporting on state and local politics and policy, with a specific focus on public workforce, environment, health care, education and technology issues. Prior to co-founding River Horse Communications, Heather offered freelance editorial services to a variety of outlets, including serving as volume editor and lead author for SAGE Publications' Historic Documents series and editor-in-chief of The Kanter Journal. Heather also blogs for two government-focused publications, GovLoop and NEOGOV, covering issues of importance to federal employees. Heather is the author of the book Retire Rich With Your 401(k) Plan. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from The George Washington University.