How Artificial Intelligence Can Reduce Healthcare Costs

July 17, 2019 / Brandon Tasset

When people hear “artificial intelligence,” they tend to think of home devices like Amazon’s Echo or Apple’s Home Pod, or hyper-advanced applications that are so far into the future that they have little relevance to life today. Between those two ends of the spectrum are a wide range of AI uses with the potential to create micro changes that result in positive systemic change.

Many of these micro changes can be seen in the healthcare space, and one of the most promising is the power of AI to reduce healthcare costs. AI offers humans both enhanced memory capacity and data tracking, so it empowers humans to proactively manage their health. In the face of proactive health management, incidents of preventable disease, injuries and even expression of genetic disorders can be reduced, which in turn reduces healthcare costs to both patients and employers.

At the moment, one of AI’s key functions for consumers is reminding them to do things: buy groceries, attend an event, wish someone a happy birthday. This same technology can also remind people to schedule and attend preventative health care appointments, eat a healthy diet, exercise, and take the correct medications and supplements at the correct intervals – all of the things that greatly impact overall health but that are also most likely to go by the wayside when people are busy or stressed. AI offers a way to break this cycle, and because we tend not to question something told to us by AI, we are more likely to actually exercise, or eat our greens, than if we were simply trying to talk ourselves into it. These small changes can yield big results, reducing the need for medical intervention and the corresponding health care costs.

AI can also track those behavioral micro changes along with medical information like blood pressure, heart rate, and activity levels, and correlate them to provide recommendations for both immediate and long-term improvements. An example of this is Cambridge Heartwear’s Heartsense Monitor, which diagnoses heart rhythm and respiratory problems in real time. Created by a cardiologist and MIT cardiology fellow, the Heartsense Monitor can securely transmit real-time data to the patient’s physician. This early intervention is expected to reduce the rate of heart attacks and strokes, which are costly episodes of care for both patients and payors.

We know that preventative health care maintenance reduces the need for more costly interventions and the utilization of unnecessary services. As the size of the aging population continues to grow, the importance of proactive management of health care will also grow. Artificial intelligence innovations can, and should, play a part in efforts to reduce health care spending.