Prominent legislators, high-ranking government officials, renowned public health specialists, and influential business executives observe a healthcare system on the verge of significant transformation, with much of it being propelled by artificial intelligence.
During the 2023 Milken Institute Future of Health Summit in Washington this week, there was a recurring theme of artificial intelligence as health care executives discussed their views on the future of health care in the United States and globally.
The anticipations are for AI to accelerate diagnoses, pinpoint treatments, and alleviate the workload of doctors. However, there are concerns about potential risks if regulations do not catch up and faulty products are implemented.
These are the key points highlighted by POLITICO from the summit.
Sophisticated artificial intelligence has the potential to enhance healthcare, but it also presents obstacles.
Artificial intelligence was the most discussed subject at the conference, both on and off the stage.
Prominent figures in various industries, professionals and government authorities recognize the potential of rapidly evolving technology in medical practices, drug research, testing and streamlining administrative tasks that have long hindered the healthcare system. This could potentially improve patient access to more efficient and timely information regarding their personal treatment.
As technology continues to advance in the health industry, it is also bringing new risks.
According to Ellen Patterson, president of EVERFI, a company specializing in digital education, this has the potential to disseminate false information at a quicker and wider rate than what is currently feasible.
There is a possibility that it may misinterpret information, give faulty guidance, or become outdated over time.
The obscured inner workings of AI make it challenging for public health regulators to accurately assess the level of risk associated with a particular system.
Regulating the emerging technology may prove challenging.
The regulations regarding AI are not well-defined, and the government has not kept up with the speed of technological advancement.
While the executive order on AI from the White House indicates it is a top concern, there is concern among experts.
Dr. Brian Anderson, the main physician for digital health at MITRE, a non-profit organization that collaborates with the government on technology initiatives, proposed that the current regulations for medical devices may not be suitable for the latest AI technology.
According to Srini Iyer, the chief technology officer of Leidos’ health technology group, the regulations may be simple to evade.
Iyer expressed concern that individuals may engage in activities without reporting them, as they will actively search for any loopholes to exploit.
There is greater consensus regarding the challenges of the healthcare system than there is for potential solutions.
During a discussion with two leaders from the Trump and Biden administrations at HHS, it became clear that a significant obstacle to change was the ongoing division between political parties.
Both Xavier Becerra, the current Secretary of Health and Human Services, and his predecessor, Alex Azar, had a mutual understanding of the significant obstacles that our nation’s health is facing.
The segmentation of the system and conflicting incentives are viewed as the underlying causes of numerous issues. The government is urged to step in and facilitate coordination between healthcare providers and insurers to improve patient care.
However, they were unable to reach a consensus on the method. Becerra praised the Inflation Reduction Act of the previous year, which required Medicare to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices, as a means of reducing patient costs. On the other hand, Azar criticized it as government intervention in pricing that would stifle innovation.
However, there were indications that bipartisan cooperation was possible. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) highlighted their proposed legislation to address antimicrobial resistance, and Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) promoted his bill with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) aimed at increasing access to primary care.
Major changes are on the horizon.
Prominent figures from the industry, experts, and government officials recognize potential in novel concepts and medications.
New pharmaceuticals for addressing obesity garnered attention not just for improving patient well-being but also for reducing healthcare expenses through earlier and more efficient treatment.
According to Christa-Marie Singleton, the chief medical officer of the Office of Personnel Management, which oversees HR for the executive branch, the government has the potential to initiate a reevaluation of how we approach managing obesity and other health issues related to being overweight.
Some potential methods for decreasing loneliness, such as forming new communities, facilitating connections through art, and providing online support, may help decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, stroke, depression, and anxiety.
Innovators are constantly working to improve their health care services for smartphones and recognize the potential of digital therapeutics, particularly in the realm of mental health care.
Under-the-radar innovation matters.
Policymakers who are addressing access to primary healthcare, supply chain management, and promoting healthy eating have the potential to drive significant change, similar to that of large technology companies.
Atul Gawande, the assistant administrator for global health at the Agency for International Development, mentioned that the United States falls behind in life expectancy despite spending significantly more on healthcare compared to other countries. He suggested that improving access to primary care could potentially increase our lifespan while also lowering costs.
Representative Debbie Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan, stated that ensuring and safeguarding supply chains was crucial in maintaining access to current medications and medical supplies, as it could potentially mean the difference between life and death.
Marshall recommended that incorporating healthy eating habits and regular exercise into one’s lifestyle can greatly improve their overall well-being, as well as contribute to the well-being of the healthcare system.