How artificial intelligence is reshaping health care

After years of hype about the impact artificial intelligence (AI) could have on health care, many experts believe that we are now on a cusp of a revolution in which AI will reshape various aspects of medicine, from personalized treatments to improved diagnostics, according to a November 11, 2020 Harvard Gazette article.

“I’m convinced that the implementation of AI in medicine will be one of the things that change the way care is delivered going forward,” said David Bates, professor of health policy and management at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and chief of internal medicine at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

The article also discussed how several Harvard Chan School researchers, including James Robins, Miguel Hernan, Sonia Hernandez-Diaz, and Andrew Beam, are applying AI in their work to better understand the statistical associations that are regularly found in large observational studies common in public health. Such studies are good for showing an association, but they often cannot determine cause and effect. By tapping into the power of AI, the hope is that the researchers can develop algorithms to analyze the data in exquisite detail and better understand possible causes and effects in order to guide new treatment approaches.

AI is not a magic bullet, however, and it presents numerous challenges and risks when applied in a health care setting, according to the article.

“There are some very large problems in health care and medicine, both in the U.S. and globally, where AI can be extremely helpful,” said Ashish Jha, adjunct professor of global health at Harvard Chan and dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health. “But the costs of doing it wrong are every bit as important as its potential benefits. … The question is: Will we be better off?”

Read the Harvard Gazette article: AI revolution in medicine