A new World Economic Forum report released June 26, 2023, highlights the transformative potential of artificial intelligence (AI) in health care and the importance of public-private collaboration in driving its global adoption.1
The report—“Scaling Smart Solutions With AI in Health: Unlocking Impact on High-Potential Use Cases”—developed in collaboration with ZS, a global management consulting and technology firm, aims to spur public-private collaboration to accelerate the responsible application of AI in health care. In response to the systemic challenges that are straining health systems worldwide, the report proposes a global taxonomy for health care AI uses and shows how global health-care systems could unlock the full potential of these new technologies to transform patient care, reduce costs, and enable people to live healthier, longer lives.
“We are at a critical juncture in global health and health care, as mounting headwinds threaten collective wellness as well as employers, economies, budgets, and societal resilience,” said Shyam Bishen, Head of the Centre for Health and Healthcare and Member of the Executive Committee at World Economic Forum. “Closely governed advancements in AI are critical to supporting a broader digital and data-driven transition to intelligent health-care systems, which can meet populations’ needs and transform health-care outcomes, access, and efficiency.”
“The question is no longer whether the technology exists for AI to transform health care. It does,” added Pratap Khedkar, Chief Executive Officer of ZS. “The question is whether or not stakeholders can pull together to set the conditions for its widespread use and adoption. If adopted broadly and responsibly, AI holds the potential to radically transform health-care systems and improve health outcomes for all.”
Jeremy Jurgens, Managing Director (Technology), World Economic Forum, wrote in a preface to the report: “We hope that this year’s report serves as a powerful tool for business leaders and policy-makers to unlock the transformative potential of emerging technologies and shape their inclusive adoption. New technologies have the power to disrupt industries, grow economies, improve lives, and safeguard the planet—if designed, scaled, and deployed responsibly.”
The new report—led by the Forum’s Centre for Health and Healthcare—is the result of a comprehensive analysis of more than 400 existing AI use cases as well as in-depth interviews with 50 global leaders across technology, health-care delivery, biopharma, government, academia, and more.
Among its key findings, the report shows how AI offers the potential to diagnose a range of diseases at scale, leading to early interventions for individuals at greater risk, and counter infectious diseases through AI-powered systems that can predict future outbreaks, map their spread, and deliver customized mitigation strategies to reduce their impact. Clinical trials can be enhanced by facilitating optimal site selection, participant recruitment, and creation of more representative synthetic data.
“New technologies have the power to disrupt industries, grow economies, improve lives, and safeguard the planet—if designed, scaled, and deployed responsibly.”— Jeremy Jurgens
Tweet this quote
Although the report highlights the potential of AI in health care, it also identifies common barriers to its adoption. These barriers include insufficient high-quality data, limited trust in AI solutions, and inadequate technologic infrastructure, among others.
According to the report, public-private support for creating a strong data foundation and improved privacy laws, responsible and transparent design of AI algorithms, and significant investment to adopt these technologies at scale will be crucial to overcome these barriers and ensure equitable access to these innovations worldwide.
Key Take-Home Messages
World Economic Forum research shows how AI can be used to build adaptable and scalable solutions to systemic challenges straining global health-care systems.
AI-driven diagnosis, infectious disease intelligence, and clinical trial optimization are among the applications where these new technologies show the highest potential.
International public-private collaboration will be crucial to overcome adoption challenges and drive AI integration in health care worldwide.
1. World Economic Forum: Scaling smart solutions with AI in health: Unlocking impact on high potential use cases. Available at https://www.weforum.org/reports/scaling-smart-solutions-with-ai-in-health-unlocking-impact-on-high-potential-use-cases. Accessed July 20, 2023.