In a survey earlier this year, 57% of participating oncologists said they think AI will help improve clinical outcomes.

SwissCognitiveArtificial intelligence (AI) is among the shiniest new objects in healthcare today. Leveraging machine learning and data algorithms, AI emulates human decision-making—but at a speed and scale that exceeds human capabilities. By streamlining the collection and analysis of vast amounts of data, AI-enabled technologies may help find connections that point to new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat disease.

Researchers are already exploring AI’s potential to improve care in diverse areas such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. The work in cancer detection is especially exciting. Consider these developments:

– A study by Imperial College of London and the University of Melbourne has shown how AI software can predict the prognosis of ovarian cancer patients—and identify which treatment option would be most effective.

– Researchers at New York University developed an AI program that can read slides of tissue samples to diagnose two common types of lung cancer with 97% accuracy.

Reflecting the growing excitement, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced the “ AI Health Outcomes Challenge ,” a $1.65 million contest to develop an AI application that can predict patient outcomes. A recent Accenture study predicts annual savings of a staggering $150 billion by 2026 through the use of AI.

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However, the ever-increasing enthusiasm is balanced with healthy skepticism. There have been some early disappointments, such as the failure of IBM Watson to detect cancer in a trial with MD Anderson Cancer Center. Some experts wonder if the reality will live up to the predictions.

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Perspectives from the front lines

Beyond the speculation, what do clinicians delivering care really think about AI’s potential? To better understand the perspective of healthcare providers, Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions surveyed more than 180 oncologists earlier this year from community- and hospital-based practices across the United States.

The results indicate oncologists are open to embracing these advanced technologies. Overall, oncologists are optimistic that AI will enhance the quality of patient care and outcomes.

More than half of participating oncologists said they are “excited” when asked about the future impact of AI on the oncology industry. Looking beyond three years, most participating oncologists said they think AI will help enhance the quality of care (53%), improve clinical outcomes (57%) and drive operational efficiencies (58%). Nearly half (47%) also expect it to lower the cost of care.[…]

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