Opinion: Oncologists are guardedly optimistic about AI. However will it drive actual enhancements in most cancers care?

Over the course of my 25-year profession as an oncologist, I’ve witnessed quite a lot of nice concepts that improved the standard of most cancers care supply together with many extra that didn’t materialize or had been guarantees unfulfilled. I maintain questioning which of these camps synthetic intelligence will fall into.

Hardly a day goes by once I don’t learn of some new AI-based software in improvement to advance the prognosis or therapy of illness. Will AI be simply one other flash within the pan or will it drive actual enhancements within the high quality and price of care? And the way are well being care suppliers viewing this technological improvement in gentle of earlier disappointments?

To get a greater deal with on the collective “take” on synthetic intelligence for most cancers care, my colleagues and I at Cardinal Well being Specialty Options fielded a survey of greater than 180 oncologists. The outcomes, revealed in our June 2019 Oncology Insights report, reveal precious insights on how oncologists view the potential alternatives to leverage AI of their practices.


Restricted familiarity tinged with optimism. Though solely 5% of responding oncologists describe themselves as being “very acquainted” with the usage of synthetic intelligence and machine studying in well being care, 36% mentioned they consider it would have a major impression in most cancers care over the subsequent few years, with a substantial variety of practices more likely to undertake synthetic intelligence instruments.

The survey additionally suggests a robust sense of optimism in regards to the impression that AI instruments could have on the longer term: 53% of respondents mentioned that such instruments are seemingly or very seemingly to enhance the standard of care in three years or extra, 58% mentioned they’re seemingly or very more likely to drive operational efficiencies, and 57% mentioned they’re seemingly or very seemingly to enhance scientific outcomes. As well as, 53% described themselves as “excited” to see what function AI will play in supporting care.

An age hole on prices. The oncologists surveyed had been considerably skeptical that AI will assist cut back total well being care prices: 47% mentioned it’s seemingly or very more likely to decrease prices, whereas 23% mentioned it was unlikely or most unlikely to take action. Youthful suppliers had been extra optimistic on this concern than their older friends. Fifty-eight % of these beneath age 40 indicated that AI was more likely to decrease prices versus 44% of suppliers over the age of 60. This can be a mirrored image of the disappointments that older physicians have skilled with different applied sciences that promised price financial savings however did not ship.

Hopes that synthetic intelligence will cut back administrative work. At a time when physicians spend practically half of their observe time on digital medical information, we weren’t shocked to see that, when requested about essentially the most precious profit that AI may ship to their observe, the highest response (37%) was “automating administrative duties so I can concentrate on sufferers.” This response aligns with analysis we carried out final 12 months exhibiting that oncologists want further hours to finish work within the digital medical file on a weekly foundation and the EMR is among the high elements contributing to emphasize at work. Clearly there may be pent-up demand for instruments that may cut back the executive burdens on suppliers. If AI can ship efficient options, it may very well be broadly embraced.

Want for decision-support instruments. Oncologists have traditionally been reluctant to relinquish management over affected person therapy selections to instruments like scientific pathways which have been developed to enhance outcomes and decrease prices. But, with 63 new most cancers medication launched up to now 5 years and tons of extra within the pipeline, the complexity surrounding therapy selections has reached a tipping level. Oncologists are starting to acknowledge that extra point-of-care determination help instruments shall be wanted to ship the perfect affected person outcomes. This was mirrored in our survey, with 26% of respondents saying that synthetic intelligence may most enhance most cancers care by serving to decide the perfect therapy paths for sufferers.

AI-based instruments that allow suppliers to stay in charge of care whereas additionally offering higher insights could also be among the many first to be adopted, particularly these that may assist rapidly establish sufferers vulnerable to poor outcomes so physicians can intervene sooner. However expertise builders will must be ready with scientific information demonstrating the effectiveness of those instruments — 27% of survey respondents mentioned the dearth of scientific proof is one in every of their high considerations about AI.

Challenges to adoption. Whereas optimistic in regards to the potential advantages of AI instruments, oncologists additionally acknowledge they don’t absolutely perceive AI but. Fifty-three % of these surveyed described themselves as “not very acquainted” with the usage of AI in well being care and, when requested to quote their high considerations, 27% indicated that they don’t know sufficient to implement it successfully. Supplier schooling and coaching on AI-based instruments shall be keys to their profitable uptake.

The principle take-home lesson for well being care expertise builders from our survey is to develop and launch synthetic intelligence instruments thoughtfully after taking steps to grasp the wants of well being care suppliers and investing time of their schooling and coaching. With out these steps, AI could grow to be simply one other right here at this time, gone tomorrow well being care expertise story.

Bruce Feinberg, D.O., is vice chairman and chief medical officer at Cardinal Well being Specialty Options.