The synergy between artificial intelligence (AI) and healthcare isn’t new. Over the years, machine learning has bolstered disease diagnostics, streamlined clinical operations, and powered drug discoveries. Now, the advent of Large Language Models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT and GPT4 is poised to reshape this landscape more profoundly.
Dubbed a revolution comparable to the dawn of computers or the internet, LLMs hold a staggering estimated value of $6 trillion. Their transformative power stretches across industries, with digital health standing as a prime beneficiary. Titans of technology and burgeoning startups are rapidly harnessing the prowess of LLMs, unveiling applications that seemed out of reach not long ago.
Though projections suggest up to 28% of healthcare labor hours could be automated by LLMs, such shifts won’t materialize instantly. Notwithstanding their promise, LLMs grapple with issues like AI inaccuracies (“hallucinations”), which carry greater implications in healthcare than elsewhere. Before achieving a significant imprint on healthcare delivery, both industry frontrunners and regulators must address these challenges.
Yet, the allure of LLMs has spurred tech giants with expansive R&D arsenals to venture into fresh healthcare AI avenues:
- Microsoft collaborates with OpenAI (GPT4’s creator) on tasks like health benefits documentation automation and patient communication. Furthermore, it’s coordinating with EHR enterprise Epic to formulate patient responses.
- Google’s Med-PaLM 2, a newly minted LLM, is designed to sift through vast healthcare data reservoirs, answering diverse medical queries. Remarkably, it’s already achieved an “expert” ranking on tests akin to the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).
- Amazon Web Services is partnering with 3M Health Information Systems, melding generative AI with clinical records.
However, the race isn’t limited to tech giants.
Startups on the Rise
ChatGPT’s proven efficacy in basic healthcare education and patient interaction is being extended by ambitious digital health startups. For instance:
- Huma.AI, a premier healthcare AI entity, recently unveiled its groundbreaking AI framework for life sciences. This platform promises swifter life-saving drug innovations by optimizing data utilization.
- Medication intelligence firm Arine harnesses AI to revamp medication therapy, achieving marked reductions in hospitalizations and costs.
- Cornerstone AI secured $5.7 million in seed funding for its AI-centric healthcare software that processes clinical data.
These startups, and more, are utilizing LLMs beyond direct patient interaction— from aiding elderly patients to enhancing information management for providers and insurers.
Venture capitalists are catching on. While global venture investments haven’t reached past peaks, generative AI funding is predicted to touch $42.6 billion by 2023’s end. This burgeoning field promises a flurry of inventive applications from present and emerging digital health startups, with significant financial backing.
The Future Awaits
The World Health Organization has identified key areas where LLMs could be game-changers: clinical decision-making, risk assessment, pandemic readiness, personalized care, and drug R&D. As we advance, both established corporations and startups will introduce groundbreaking solutions in these domains and uncharted territories.
However, colossal challenges loom. Regulatory frameworks must be established before LLMs can be widely deployed in healthcare. These regulations must address accuracy, potential biases, and determine the conditions under which generative AI can be utilized in medical contexts.