Last week thought leaders from all over North America gathered in Chicago for Becker's Annual Hospital Review. The conference had a heavy focus on the emerging trends in management and operations however also brought up major topics that we frequently see on the news such as AI and its application. It was clear that many came to learn what they can bring back to their organization to improve workflows and outcomes. What was refreshing to see and hear however was how speakers and attendees were approaching the topics, with a challenging mindset.
“How is AI actually being used right now? What is being done to address the components that make us question it?”
“Healthcare is moving so slow in this rapid age of disruptive tech. Leaders do not want to be early adopters and ‘experiment' with their organization. Their patient's lives and wellbeing are at stake.”
It's been 8 years since IBM Watson first emerged with a bold claim and promise - to revolutionize the healthcare industry. Billions of dollars in R&D and one guest appearance in Jeopardy later, not much tangible progress has been made; there is little show in terms of actual clinical use. And why is that? How come all the hype around AI hasn't translated into results? Well, the answer is rather straightforward… healthcare is complicated.
When I was studying to become a Registered Nurse, there was just as much of a focus on the art of medicine as there was on the science of it. Human interactions, building rapport, body language, healing through touch, empathy and presence. These are incredibly complicated and nuanced themes that can’t simply be taught to a machine or coded as an algorithm, they are acquired over decades of living. These are human traits that clinicians pride themselves on. So much of a patient’s well-being and health is communicated to clinicians through non-verbal channels.
The real problem around all the hype of these emerging trends, around all the fancy buzzwords, is that it overshadows and mask solutions that can make a difference right now. I get it, I really do. Organizations and healthcare solutions need to stay relevant, they need to be sexy and marketable; no one wants to receive their care or treatment from an outdated hospital using old technology and solutions. What’s worse is that for those masked organizations and healthcare solutions to get seen and recognized, to step out of those ‘shadows’, they need to play the same game. They either have to pivot their message to incorporate the hype or actually embrace the hype and allocate resources to include it into their solution or organization.I’m glad that thought leaders have begun calling out hype for what it is and that people are starting to challenge the broad sweeping statements that are being sold. We need to start managing our expectations of new emerging technology and not allow ourselves to succumb to all of the hype. After all, the higher we allow our expectations to climb, the longer the fall will be.