With the flip of a page, 2024 has arrived, and with it comes new possibilities and potential. One of the most significant topics for the new year remains the increased usage of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare. What can patients and physicians expect from this rapidly growing technology in 2024? Below are some potential outcomes:
Increased Regulation and Oversight
While machine learning and generative AI have quickly become a part of daily life for all Americans, its uses within the healthcare sector remain vague. This is partly due to the technology’s early stages, opening the door for widespread innovation and growth throughout 2024.
On October 23, 2023, President Joe Biden enacted an executive order to implement regulations that outlined the use and governance of AI across multiple industries, including healthcare.
The Defense Production Act, according to Holland and Knight, “seeks to strike a balance between controlling the risks of AI while also encouraging innovation that may benefit consumers.”
Concerning the healthcare sector, the Defense Production Act outlines specific directives for the Department of Health and Human Services for the next year, marking specific goals at the 90-, 180-, and 365-day milestones. Some of these directives include:
90 Days: The HHS Secretary is to make a task force with the U.S. Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Veterans Affairs to develop a plan of action, including potential legislation.
180 Days: The HHS secretary is to develop a plan to determine if AI technology in the healthcare sector “maintains appropriate levels of quality,” according to Holland and Knight. This milestone also requires developing an AI assurance policy and ensuring that providers who receive federal funding do not violate non-discrimination policies with AI.
365 Days: Within one year, the task force must have established an AI-safety program focused on identifying and capturing clinical errors “resulting from AI-deployed in healthcare settings, among other things,” Holland and Knight explain.
The executive order also guides other federal agencies in setting area-specific guidelines and tasks.
Potential for AI Automation
While we are a ways away from having AI robots complete highly complex procedures without the help or oversight of medical professionals, the increased adaptation of the technology into more minor aspects of routine tasks may see growth in the new year.
Anish Sebastian of Medical Economics predicts that health plans may increase the use of AI in medical claim review. This would lower the strain on humans performing the process, increasing productivity and accuracy.
However, this aspect of use brings privacy concerns, which would need to be adequately addressed by lawmakers to reduce growing concerns and skepticism surrounding data and patient privacy.
Generative AI is poised for a big year in 2024. The term “generative AI’ represents a large section of what we commonly experience. Google defines this form of AI as “artificial intelligence capable of generating text, images, or other media using generative models.”
Forbes lists the potential of generative AI as one of its ten biggest trends that will revolutionize healthcare in 2024. The article cites that generative AI can be used to create data to train healthcare AI algorithms. This created data can resemble real-world situations and medical records without compromising real patient information.
If providers find ways to maximize generative AI, its benefits can further expand to the accuracy of future diagnoses, improving patient outcomes and increasing patient satisfaction.
Can AI be used to prevent illnesses before they occur? With further growth and innovation potentially. The U.S. healthcare system is already amid a slow shift towards value-based healthcare, which includes a more preventative approach to delivering care rather than its current reactive leanings.
The use of AI over time will provide increased data points for machine learning and can help provide deeper insights into how to help patients avoid illnesses and prepare for potential future issues due to family history or genetics.
Artificial intelligence has opened a new world of information and, if used correctly, can lead to a healthier society.
At first glance, 2024 looks like another year of innovation and testing surrounding AI’s uses within the healthcare space. Some technologies, including artificial reality (AR) and virtual reality(VR), already benefit healthcare education and clinical use.
With potential new regulations on the way, the use of AI in healthcare is sure to grow. What remains to be seen is how much growth there is and how it can be used while protecting users, patients, and the highly sensitive data in providing care.
Holland & Knight: https://www.hklaw.com/en/insights/publications/2023/11/new-ai-executive-order-contains-numerous-healthcare-implications#:~:text=President%20Joe%20Biden%20on%20Oct,innovation%20that%20can%20benefit%20consumers.