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AIHD Conference Speaker Explains Impact of Millennials on Medical AI Technologies

As artificial intelligence (AI)-related advances in healthcare grow, generational gaps influence how people and groups approach these innovations.

That brings positive and negative connotations to how AI healthcare technology is developed and how consumers interact with it. Generational differences serve as an important consideration for healthcare leaders as millennials take on a growing role in the innovation of emerging technologies, said Ted Schwab, Founder of Schwab Tremblay Solutions in Santa Monica, Calif.

Schwab will speak on the impact of millennials as they make changes to healthcare through AI, and what lessons leaders can learn, at the Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare and Diagnostics Conference (AIHD), which takes place May 10-11 in San Jose, Calif.

Impact of Millennials on Innovation Fuels Successes … and Failures

The impact of millennials on healthcare AI has been a mixed bag, said Schwab, who has more than 35 years of experience leading parts of various strategic consulting firms. He works with AI companies bringing new products to the market and is also a U.S. executive for Australian-based Artrya Health, a company focused on AI in cardiac imaging.

Ted Schwab, Schwab Tremblay Solutions“On the positive side, they brought a whole new energy to healthcare transformation that definitely upset some apple carts,” he explained. “Also, they brought a whole new generation of technologies to the game and made the industry aware of social media and customer-focused care.”

While millennials have brought a customer-centric energy to how innovators approach AI, Schwab questioned the effects that this approach has ultimately had.

“On the other side of the ledger, the positives millennials have brought to healthcare really haven’t resulted in much change that affected patient care,” Schwab explained. "While it is nice for patients to have more information, there isn’t any evidence that this results in them becoming better patients or consumers. While it is nice that patients can interact through new technologies, there isn’t any evidence that those technologies have changed the cost or quality curve of U.S. healthcare.”

While Schwab welcomed the efforts of millennials in AI innovation, there are mistakes that he commonly sees Generation Y innovators making. For example, millennials sometimes forget about the “three Rs” that dictate American healthcare: regulations, revenue, and relative value units (RVUs), a term that describes the methodology for how physicians are paid by Medicare and private payers, Schwab said.

“I can’t tell you the number of times that millennial innovators have approached me with ‘new’ ideas that were outside of the regulatory bounds of the industry or downright illegal,” he said. “They couldn’t believe that American healthcare was so regulated by contradictory government agencies.”

Schwab added that by doing more homework, millennials can avoid investing their energies into creating technologies that are unlikely to be permissible from a regulatory perspective.

While regulatory missteps are an important consideration that is sometimes missed by millennials, there are also mistakes that are commonly made on the revenue side of innovation.

“Many of the solutions millennials propose are going to save billions of dollars,’” Schwab observed. “This isn’t true if their solutions aren’t adopted. Doctors and hospitals only adopt solutions if they can see a revenue stream. Sometimes millennials seem to be appalled that the American healthcare runs off capitalistic principles.”

The last error that Schwab commonly sees millennials make is a failure to fully appreciate how providers are compensated, such as through RVU-based payments.

“There is often a lack of understanding of how doctors get paid in the U.S.,” Schwab warned. “I’ve seen proposal after proposal and company after company that set out to re-order the way doctors work without taking into account how they are paid.”

Automation Serves as Fertile Ground for AI Tools

While Schwab has seen ineffective approaches to improving healthcare through AI, he believes that there remain opportunities in this emerging field. The most important trend Schwab currently sees in healthcare AI is automation.

“American healthcare is at an inflection point,” Schwab explained. “The number of diagnostic procedures and monitoring information is moving at hockey stick growth,” referring to a sudden upward business trajectory shaped like a hockey stick’s handle that can occur when startups find their niche market.

“Yet the number of physicians in those very fields is declining. The only way to utilize all of the new, AI-enabled diagnostic capabilities is to automate human systems.”

As time progresses, the impact of millennials on technology and how it is used is growing. Healthcare leaders should understand the potential benefits in millennial-driven AI technologies and be mindful of any pitfalls in their approaches.

—Caleb Williams

Related Resources:

Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare and Diagnostics Conferenc

What are relative value units?

CMS Proposes a New Rule That Would Shift Many Procedures from High-Cost Inpatient Healthcare Settings to Lower-Cost Outpatient Ambulatory Surgical Centers

Hockey stick growth explained