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May 20, 2019

Artificial Intelligence in Health Care: Will the Value Match the Hype?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • 2Department of Health Care Management, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • 3Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
JAMA. 2019;321(23):2281-2282. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.4914

Artificial intelligence (AI) and its many related applications (ie, big data, deep analytics, machine learning) have entered medicine’s “magic bullet” phase. Desperate for a solution for the never-ending challenges of cost, quality, equity, and access, a steady stream of books, articles, and corporate pronouncements makes it seem like health care is on the cusp of an “AI revolution,” one that will finally result in high-value care.

While AI has been responsible for some stunning advances, particularly in the area of visual pattern recognition,1-3 a major challenge will be in converting AI-derived predictions or recommendations into effective action.

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    1 Comment for this article
    Paul Nelson, M.D., M.S. | Family Health Care, P.C. retired
    Worsening child neglect and poverty; longevity at birth; childhood obesity; adolescent suicide/homicide, substance abuse/overdose mortality; homelessness; mass shootings; maternal mortality; adult depression/disability, and possibly worsening senile dementia characterize a spectrum of interrelated problems that follow the observations of Dr. Emanuel about AI and its value for the improvement of the health of our nation.

    I would add that we will need a fully dimensional definition of health that offers a basis for understanding the underlying scientific and humanitarian realms of knowledge that link the list of health disturbances listed above.

    We live in a
    time of profound cognitive dissonance, ironically proposed by Leon Festinger in 1957. The concept of paradigm paralysis applies, originated by Thomas Kuhn in 1962. We lack only the collaborative will, community by community, to enhance the health of each person based on a commitment to rebuild our nation's social cohesion. AI would be of no value for this strategy.