As artificial intelligence increasingly influences numerous domains of our society, the ongoing debates around regulations, effective adoption and data usage continue. Shantanu Nigam, Chief Executive Officer of Jvion – the current market leaders in purpose-built AI, reveals his thoughts on two additional challenges facing AI in medicine and healthcare.
AIM: What are your thoughts about who should be paying for AI solutions and whether it may result in inequalities if only some can afford to utilise AI?
SHANTANU NIGAM: With regards to who should pay, I think the more important question to ask is ‘Who benefits?’ The entity that benefits from the AI should be accountable to pay for the capability. That straight-line relationship would drive the most meaningful adoption of AI, avoiding the introduction of unnatural financial levers. AI solutions, if applied correctly, should increase efficiencies and drive better patient care. Increased efficiency results in financial benefits and better health outcomes for patients – and the systemic benefits from better patient health outcomes is undeniable. Historically, payers would have realized most financial benefits from improved patient outcomes; however, with the shift to value-based care there are enough drivers for providers and payers both to realize financial benefits as well and provide the business case for investment in AI technologies.
Inequality occurs in two ways. Firstly, efficiency; people who get to use AI enjoy enhanced patient care. As is often the case with most innovative solutions, such inequality is expected as early adopters gain an advantage. That is not a bad thing as it forces others to follow to stay competitive. Such inequality is short term because so long as AI is bringing value and the solution pays for itself, it works to bridge the gap between who can afford and who cannot. And in situations where AI solutions are not delivering on their promised return, they will quickly fall to the wayside. The second occurrence of inequality is driven by the application of AI solutions to game the system by maximizing reimbursement or over- optimizing contract negotiations. This type of inequality puts entities with lesser resources at a disadvantage. When we think about regulatory responses to the rise of AI, these types of solutions and the nefarious application of AI should be targeted.
AIM: As a leading company in prescriptive analytics, does Jvion foresee the possibility of such a future?
SN: Yes, but not so much on who pays for it. We always encourage our clients to be mindful and find the right solution that pays for itself. That way, such inequality driven by resources is minimized. If a solution does not bring enough value or pay for itself, it is simply not the right solution. There are many applications of AI and not each of them can perform as anticipated. Yet, they are still in the market because there is lot of increased interest in this segment lately. Awareness on how to find the right actionable and proven solutions is key. For Jvion, we only focus on applying AI to better care for patients while eliminating avoidable patient harm and associated waste in the healthcare system. It takes a lot of courage to stay focused because you have to say no to business that does not align with your purpose. I think if everyone aligns to that purpose, there won’t be a problem of inequality.
AIM: What strategies does Jvion use to ensure its AI-driven solution is made accessible to as many people as possible?
SN: One of our strategies is we ask ourselves at the start of each project, whether AI is going to help patients, reduce harm, and drive better care. If any of this comes back as a no, we simply will not proceed. Even if it means taking more additional investments on our side. With this focused philosophy, it’s easier for us to propagate our solutions to the larger patient population and community.
AIM: How do you think AI or prescriptive analytics will progress in this new decade?
SN: According to some estimates, about a third of our healthcare spend goes on wasted resources or inefficiencies. Most of these inefficiencies result in avoidable patient harm. So clearly there is a pressing need to eliminate inefficiency and waste in our healthcare system. We have the technology and means and it can be achieved by applying the right AI. However, medical professionals need to undergo a mind or cultural shift. Once they have witnessed what AI can do for their patients, they are more likely to embrace it and find ways to adopt it into their workflow. Overall, it’s important to educate individuals on what is right and what is not because at the end of the day, technology should be applied with a purpose. And that purpose should align to the mission of the organization and the clinicians tasked with caring for patients and the community.