“Just as electricity transformed almost everything 100 years ago, today I have a hard time thinking of an industry that I don’t think Artificial Intelligence will transform in the next several years,” Stanford Computer Science professor, Andrew Ng, stated. The healthcare industry will be greatly impacted by the use of Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) in 2019 and beyond. How much so? A new report by Tractica stated the market for healthcare artificial intelligence tools is expected to surpass $34 billion by the middle of the 2020s, driven largely by a growing desire to automate tasks and harness deeper insights into clinical and financial issues. As we enter 2019, my healthcare industry colleagues and clients, LBMC, PC (“LBMC”) and even personally will encounter opportunities to use AI to improve the status quo.

According to a recent study by Johns Hopkins, more than 250,000 people in the United States die every year because of medical mistakes, making it the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer. Research by Accenture stated effective application of AI to assist with medical dosage errors could result in up to $16 billion for the healthcare industry by 2026. AI is already assisting healthcare professionals in a variety of ways to help with overall patient care. For example, in November 2018, the University of Rochester Medical Center announced it would utilize Aidoc, an AI radiology company, to help identify and prioritize critical cases. Home-based AI is in the beginning stages, but faster, more accurate diagnoses are on the horizon. Remidio has already been successful using a cell phone based diagnosis for diabetes by analyzing photographs of a patient’s eye. For a couple of years, I have seen clients use da Vinci robot systems for surgical purposes; however, these are 100 percent human controlled machines. AI is growing within robotics as evidenced by the Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot, which can suture stiches cleaner and more accurately than a human surgeon. Andrew McDonald, Shareholder & Practice Leader, Healthcare Consulting reiterates, “While gaining traction in many areas, AI possesses the opportunity to have a huge impact on the healthcare field. Physicians and mid-level providers will be armed with a tremendous amount of additional information that will afford them with the opportunity to enhance the overall prevention, diagnosis and treatment functions all while potentially reducing the overall cost of healthcare in the US.”

LBMC has partnered with MindBridge to help utilize AI within the auditing world. MindBridge states, “AI will not take the place of auditors; AI will take the place of auditors who choose not to use AI.” MindBridge will allow our roles as auditors, accountants and number crunchers to be secondary to an advisory role. AI has already begun to assist public accounting firms with automated data entry, data categorization, contract interpretation and in healthcare, specifically, is used to analyze patient claims for thousands of accounts, pinpointing potential complexities in advance. LBMC will begin to utilize MindBridge for several of these aforementioned AI tasks in 2019 to enhance client service through consulting and advisory opportunities from data outputs provided and efficiencies of performance from routine tasks. 

Even personally, AI will greatly impact my 2019 year. As a type 1 diabetic, I will begin using a Medtronic 670G insulin pump. I have worn an insulin pump for 8 years, but the 670G will adapt to my body and give additional insulin or restrict insulin absorption, based on how my current blood sugar, compared to my preset target blood sugar, which is read through a sensor in my arm and transferred to my insulin pump in my abdomen for analysis. Yes, my insulin pump clipped to my belt will now be making decisions which have a direct impact to both my long-term and short-term health.

Whether you are in a management role within the healthcare industry, an auditor working at LBMC or a patient discussing options with your healthcare professional, you will be encountering AI in 2019. AI will be a major part of the years 2019 and beyond. The time for AI is upon us. It is our job to be prepared, be knowledgeable, and adapt to the changes coming our way!

For information on AI in healthcare or other questions around your healthcare practice, contact Andrew McDonald, Shareholder at LBMC at amcdonald@lbmc.com or 615-309-2474. For more information on MindBridge and an audit of the future, contact Kurt Zollner, Audit Manager at kzollner@lbmc.com or 615-309-2477.