Healthcare Boards and Gen AI
4 questions healthcare corporate boards must face about generative AI
This is the plea coming from all sides of the generative AI industry at the moment. Innovators are asking U.S. regulators to step it up and institute formal guardrails in this space.
But for now, it’s largely up to companies themselves to self-regulate.
So, who makes judgment calls on the use of generative AI in healthcare?
A lot of that responsibility falls on executive boards.
And how do these boards make these decisions? Ask McKinsey.
The firm recently published a 4-topic guide for corporate boards overseeing their companies’ use of generative AI. We loved the questions they posed, but we’d like to make them specific to healthcare.
Take a look at what we came up with—and weigh in with your thoughts!
4 topics healthcare executive boards must consider about generative AI
1. Balancing value-creation with risk management in healthcare
With generative AI helping manage triage and patient follow-up, doctors can focus more on doctoring.
But before rolling out these solutions across health systems, boards need to balance these benefits with the many inherent risks:
And this all brings us to reputation management.
If you’re looking for a worst-case scenario here, look no further than our feature on crisis hotlines. The story of the backlash against one helpline’s chatbot hallucinations is sure to make you cringe.
2. The resources healthcare companies need to deploy gen AI
Generative AI can only work for a healthcare company with the right tech stack. And the data architecture and security standards to boot.
After all, generative AI is more useful in healthcare if it’s trained on a healthcare organization’s own data—going beyond a standard foundation model.
Plus, deploying generative AI is not a one-and-done deal, especially in healthcare. Companies need a plan for acquiring and training the appropriate talent to maintain, work with, and communicate about generative AI.
3. Amending organizational structure to accommodate gen AI
Healthcare companies especially would be well-served by appointing AI specialists to their executive suite. The high level of risk management with generative AI solutions requires an experienced AI leader’s help calling the shots.
4. The short- and long-term impacts of gen AI in healthcare
When weighing all these questions, corporate boards can’t afford to be short-sighted.
Yes, companies must consider some of these short-term impacts of generative AI on healthcare:
The expectation for more personalization and faster response time to patient queries
The need to educate providers on the effective use and oversight of these tools
Development of patient communication about generative AI implementation
But they must also keep in mind more long-term, robust workforce impacts, such as:
Preparing the business for future workforce unpredictability (e.g., increases in productivity, the reallocation of staff resources to AI oversight)
How are actual healthcare companies evaluating their use of generative AI?
So, how are these self-governance efforts looking in the real world of healthcare generative AI?
Some hospitals, like NYU Langone, are taking the management and improvement of generative AI tools into their own hands.
At the same time, many hospitals are waffling on how—and whether—to talk to patients about their use of generative AI at all, waiting for others to take the lead.
And forget having a comprehensive plan: In a hospital executive survey conducted by Bain, only six percent of respondents reported having a generative AI strategy ready.
If you ask us, those survey results should be a reality check. Both for proponents of healthcare AI and for the broader healthcare industry.
Companies that aren’t prepping to handle generative AI are already late. The time to start working on a plan was yesterday.
Granted, there’s only so much healthcare companies can do to self-regulate. Especially as stiff competition pressures more companies to jump into generative AI as soon as they can, guns blazing.
We must still call for formal industry-wide regulation.
But first: Take a moment to imagine you’re on a corporate board (if you’re not already). Before you get too excited about your newfound power, take a moment to think:
How would you go about evaluating your healthcare company’s use of generative AI? Is there a question we missed in this guide? Let us know!