John Lynn is an entrepreneur and a blogger with extensive experience in the information technology sector of the healthcare industry. Among his many IT skills, John takes particular pride in his ability to bridge the gap between those who are technically savvy and those who are technically challenged.
Q: Based on your experience in healthcare-related IT, how do you see the healthcare experience evolving for providers between now and 2025?
A: The biggest change I foresee is an increasing use of AI (artificial intelligence). I expect AI to take over a lot of the mundane tasks that plague healthcare today. And I think that’s true for nurses, doctors, and even the doctor’s front-desk operation. Everyone involved in healthcare is going to be impacted by AI.
Now, it’s not going to replace the doctor as some people have suggested, but I think that it will augment medical professionals in ways that are going to make them more efficient and more effective. And it’s going to improve the care that patients receive.
Q: In what areas of healthcare will AI have its earliest impact?
A: We already see it to some degree in radiology, where the FDA has approved a handful of AI-assisted diagnostic tools. It probably will show up next in back-office operations. Already, chatbots are interacting with patients about bills, scheduling, and even in a kind of triage function. These bots can make sure patients are directed to the right source of care, and they can even assist doctors by suggesting potential diagnoses that the doctor has not yet considered.
AI is also helping doctors to formulate clinical decisions by supplying input on drug interactions and potential allergic reactions. But I think we’re going to see that accelerated to a much higher degree where the decision support will go beyond flagging potential drug-allergy interactions to something more specific involving such factors as genomics and biomics. This could help to ensure that patients get treatment tailored much more closely to their specific needs.
Q: How will IT alter the patient experience in the years ahead?
A: If I were to walk into a doctor’s office right now, the nurse would know nothing about me, and the doctor would know only what the nurse had asked me before the doctor entered the exam room. Our visits to the doctor should include much more information that’s being collected by ourselves, by sensors, and by previous doctors’ visits.
AI could assist by filtering through all the information that’s available from our personal devices, our past health history, and our genomics to give the doctor a running start when he walks into the exam room.
Q: What kind of other technological advances do you foresee in healthcare?
A: Ambient voice technology, already in use to some degree, could improve things immensely for both providers and patients. I imagine something like Alexa in the exam room listening to what’s happening between the doctor and the patient, recording it, and then applying voice recognition technology and natural language processing to understand what’s being said and by whom.
This interview has been edited and condensed.