Health Care Investors Bet Big on AI

What's Going On?

Despite the technical and feasibility challenges faced by artificial intelligence in health care, venture capitalists are betting that positive results will come sooner than later. Private equity investments in AI health care startups are soaring. These fledgling ventures have raised $4.3 billion since 2013, hitting a historic high in the second quarter of this year with financing deals totaling more than $500 million, according to new research from CBInsights.

Bullish Outlook

The ability of AI and machine learning (an application of AI) to quickly produce actionable intelligence to complement the work of physicians and researchers make these tools hugely attractive. A report from Accenture estimates that AI applications in health care could save up to $150 billion by 2026.

As for capabilities and possibilities, DeepMind, a Google-owned AI company, has developed a system using AI that can identify 50 different types of eye conditions as accurately as a doctor. Apple is building a clinical and research platform around the iPhone and Apple Watch that could revolutionize clinical trials. Elsewhere, pharmaceutical companies deploying AI are experimenting with deep learning to design new drugs.

6 AI Trends to Watch

AI will provide new opportunities to enhance care delivery and clinical productivity. Here are six trends to watch as you map strategy to leverage AI:

  • The Food and Drug Administration is fast-tracking approvals of AI software for clinical imaging and diagnostics.
  • Using AI, researchers are starting to study and measure atypical risk factors that were previously difficult to quantify, e.g., analysis of retinal images to find cardiovascular risk factors.
  • Top pharmaceutical companies and AI startups are partnering to discover new drug candidates for a range of diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.
  • AI is turning the smartphone and consumer wearables into powerful at-home diagnostic tools.
  • AI therapy bots, from life coaching to cognitive behavioral therapy to faith-based healing, are cropping up on Facebook Messenger.
  • AI is beginning to play a role in quantifying the quality of service patients receive at hospitals.

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