Health Tech

How Should Providers Be Approaching the Generative AI Frenzy?

Bill Fera — a principal and head of AI at Deloitte — said that the generative AI frenzy holds incredibly promising opportunities for health systems. He noted that in order for hospitals to succeed in the era of generative AI, they need to establish the right metrics for their pilots early on so they can quickly nix or scale them.

It’s well-known that the U.S. healthcare sector has historically lagged behind other industries when it comes to digital transformation. Many Americans desire to have the same convenient, personalized digital experiences they have become accustomed to for their banking, retail and travel needs — but the healthcare industry hasn’t been able to deliver those seamless experiences yet.

During an interview at last week’s ViVE conference in Los Angeles, Bill Fera — who is a principal and head of AI at Deloitte — pointed out that healthcare’s digital transformation journey has been different than other industries.

“Most industries went from analog to digital. I feel like we went from analog to electronic and now we’re just starting to get to digital. We just took what was analog and put it into an electronic format — we didn’t actually make anything digital,” he declared. “That’s why we haven’t seen the gains in healthcare that we’ve seen in other industries — because we simply took analog processes and made them electronic.”

Now that the generative AI frenzy is here, the healthcare sector can “finally actually enter an age of digital ways of working,” Fera added.

In his view, healthcare providers need to take advantage of the promise of generative AI as soon as possible. He said that generative AI “will fundamentally change the way” that the healthcare industry operates.

“They need to get started now — they need a governance structure and they need to start doing responsible pilots,” Fera stated.

Health systems should spend more time crafting the governance structure for their AI pilots, he noted.

Before healthcare providers launch an AI pilot, it’s crucial that they determine which metrics they need to track — and a lot of health systems don’t really do this, Fera said. By establishing the right metrics early on, the provider can quickly nix the pilot if the metrics show that the AI tool isn’t worth using. 

Many health systems don’t know which AI pilots to scale and which ones to stop because they aren’t tracking the right metrics — or aren’t tracking metrics at all — Fera remarked.

“There’s a lot of languishing in pilots that are inherently not going to create value. We’ve been really trying to work with our clients to prioritize use cases that can move the needle from a return perspective and establish the right metrics around that use case,” he explained.

Generative AI’s use in healthcare is still pretty nascent and there’s a lot of iterating that needs to be done, so hospitals should feel no shame about scrapping a project that isn’t generating a return on investment, Fera said. But they should be getting started on these pilots expeditiously, he declared.

Photo: Carol Yepes, Getty Images