As physicians are strained by surging demand, AI may provide relief

Physicians are facing a growing challenge as they face a surge in demand for their services.

Visits per physician office this year have grown by a staggering 30%, far higher than the rate in 2019, before the pandemic, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But health care jobs, representing the ability to meet that rising demand, increased by a mere 1.65%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It’s a disconnect that has stretched the resources of physicians and their staffs, and left patients frustrated. And there isn’t much relief in sight as the number of workers entering the field has been declining.

The enrollment for health care degrees has declined, as seen in the 6.1% decline in master’s programs last year, according to Becker’s Hospital Review. Enrollment in doctoral programs also edged down, falling by 0.4%.

But there may be some relief in technology, particularly in the form of generative artificial intelligence and, specifically, generative pre-trained transformers, or GPTs.

The private sector sees an opportunity. Start with the chipmakers: Five public major chipmaker companies that can manufacture semiconductors with AI capabilities have increased in aggregate share price value by 75% this year, according to Bloomberg data. This is driven primarily by an increase in demand for AI computing processors.

But the interest doesn’t stop there. Some of these chipmakers’ largest customers are technology companies that are investing in health care, signaling that the health care ecosystem is embracing these innovations.

To that end, public health care companies in the past three months have discussed AI more than any other three-month period in the past three years, suggesting that they are eager to implement new technologies to streamline many facets of their business.

For example, GPT technologies may be able to streamline back-office functions to ease the administrative burden for physicians while additionally assisting physicians in providing care.

The takeaway

Health care organizations, including physician practices, may look to use generative AI to innovate and enhance the patient experience, particularly in a tight labor market. Simply wading through and making sense of the explosion in health care information, which now makes up 30% of the world’s data, is incentive enough. But as these solutions become available, generative AI technologies will require careful oversight and governance frameworks to ensure patient safety.

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