Health Tech

Health Exec: We Have No Choice But To Embrace AI

Providers who don’t take advantage of AI will get “left behind,” said Dr. Shantanu Gaur, founder and CEO of Allurion Technologies, during a panel discussion at INVEST Digital Health.

From left to right: Katie Adams, senior reporter, MedCity News; Shantanu Gaur, MD, founder & CEO, Allurion Technologies; Audrey Howell, Ph.D., VP of product, Butterfly; Ryan Lakin, divisional vice president, digital solutions, medical devices, Abbott

AI has been a hot topic in healthcare recently, and some providers are concerned about getting replaced by the technology. This won’t happen, but providers who want to stay ahead will need to embrace AI, one healthcare exec said Thursday.

“If you don’t leverage AI in your practice, you will be left behind,” said Dr. Shantanu Gaur, founder and CEO of Allurion Technologies. “The facts behind that statement are very clear. We’re entering into an era in not just U.S. healthcare, but healthcare all over the world where the volumes that are being seen in individual practices are going through the roof. … It’s beyond the point where human beings can actually keep up with all the data and the complex analysis that needs to be done on a patient-by-patient basis. We actually have no choice but to embrace AI and machine learning.”

He made these comments during a panel discussion about medtech at the MedCity News INVEST Digital Health conference held in Dallas. His company, Allurion Technologies, is a medical device company that aims to end obesity. Gaur’s co-panelists were Audrey Howell, vice president of product at Butterfly, and Ryan Lakin, divisional vice president of digital solutions and medical devices at Abbott.

Gaur noted, however, that for providers, “AI is quite intimidating.” And it isn’t just AI that is daunting either.

“Just forgetting AI for a second, all the data that is being generated in [providers’] practices is very intimidating,” he said. “When we talk to our providers and our customers who are using Allurion about all of the new innovations that we have in our pipeline for AI, some of them are quite concerned that this could replace them. … We always tell them AI is not going to replace you or your staff.”

He added that patients have concerns about AI too, but are still largely accepting of it.

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“They’re worried about privacy, they’re worried about the ethical implications,” Gaur said. “They’re worried about whether or not this will replace their relationship with their provider. I have to say that I have just been stunned by how much consumers have embraced it across all demographics, age groups and nationalities.”

Gaur’s comments were echoed by another exec, who said back in May at the MedCity News INVEST conference in Chicago that AI has the opportunity to make physicians’ work easier.

“My hope is that [AI] frees up doctors’ space to have more empathy,” said Mike Spadafore, managing director of Blue Venture Fund. “There are just so many doctors out there that have to spend so much time playing with so much stuff in such a tight window. If you can make them more efficient, they can act with more empathy. I think the low-hanging fruit — the part that I think is the most plausible and that I’m excited about — are all of these existing workflows. How do you make these workflows more efficient? … I think doctor replacement feels a little bit away.”

Photo: MedCity News