World Economic Forum - Patient First Health with Generative AI: Reshaping the Care Experience report
Generative AI offers a powerful new modality to address global healthcare challenges, but it’s not a panacea.
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated numerous existing global healthcare problem areas – among them a severe shortage of healthcare workers, widening health disparities and existential strain on health system finances.
The World Health Organization estimates the global shortage of healthcare workers today at 15 million (including 10 million doctors), a figure projected to decline to 10 million by 2030. Around 95% of the shortfall is in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
This poses a significant threat to global health, as there simply are not enough healthcare providers to care for the volume of patients in need – let alone to provide the type of preventive care required
to extend the health span for global populations.
Powered by rapid advances in machine- and deep- learning techniques, artificial intelligence has been hailed as the answer to a broad array of endemic healthcare challenges. However, significant barriers remain, as examined in the 2023 joint Forum and ZS report Scaling Smart Solutions with AI in Health: Unlocking Impact on High-Potential Use Cases.
While generative artificial intelligence (AI) is not a healthcare panacea, it does offer stakeholdersa powerful new modality to address healthcare challenges that are difficult for existing predictiveAI techniques to address. Yet, predictive AI’s limitations are not the only factor spurring the development and use of generative AI in healthcare.
The consumerisation of health – long under way but hastened by the pandemic – is a powerful and growing force catalysing healthcare transformation. From the public’s growing reliance on the internet to gather health information to US healthcare pricing transparency laws and policies across Europe to make healthcare more accessible, patients everywhere demand more convenient and accessible healthcare experiences.
Many healthcare companies and other stakeholders have struggled to keep pace with changing patient expectations for how they engage with the health system, as described in the 2024 ZS Future of Health Report. This paper focuses on the promise of using generative AI to advance direct patient engagement, a use case with high potential to alleviate health system burden, reduce healthcare provider burnout and improve patient experiences and outcomes.
Key takeaways include:
Generative AI holds significant promise to aid healthcare consumers across their full health journeys – from dispensing reliable health information across regions and cultural contexts to ensuring patients get the appropriate level of care and helping them to manage their conditions.
The biggest barriers to the adoption of patient- facing generative AI solutions for healthcare are mistrust among doctors and the public, holes in the data foundation and scalability in low- resource environments.
Encouraging generative AI adoption in healthcare depends on instilling models with empathy and domain-specific knowledge, mitigating bias by connecting the data ecosystem and continuously fine tuning models, keeping humans in the loop and developing more cost-effective ways to train and run multi- modal foundation models.
Patient-facing generative AI poses risks – but the risk of maintaining the status quo is graver.
A person’s health is inherently precious. Any stakeholder developing, deploying or vouchingfor a generative AI-powered tool that could put even one patient’s health at risk through faulty, confusing or ill-timed information should be cautious. However, the risk of medical or ethical malpractice stemming from the responsible use of these tools pales compared with the more general malpractice of choosing to ignore their boundless capacity for patient impact.
This is true at the patient level and even moreso at the population level. Global patient demand for medical treatment outstrips supply by many orders of magnitude, leading to great loss of life, reduced lifespan for millions and growing fractures to global health and healthcare systems. Generative AI, especially when paired with predictive AI techniques, offers the greatest current hopeof translating today’s golden age of scientific innovation into equitable improvements to global health and healthcare.
Read the full report by clicking on the link above.
World Economic Forum
The World Economic Forum, committed to improving the state of the world, is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.
The Forum engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.