Appointment for Dr. Google please. Artificial intelligence is moving into the lucrative healthcare sector. Google, Amazon and Microsoft with their cloud services have been struggling to get their hands on this $3.2 trillion market and now are enlisting artificial intelligence to, kind of, act like doctors. Wow! Maybe this is the breakthrough that can finally “modernize” the cumbersome and costly healthcare industry. BUT if that “robot” puts that latex glove on……run.
“Few U.S. industries are growing as fast as health care, but the big public-cloud companies—Amazon.com, Microsoft, Google—have struggled to crack the $3.2 trillion market. Even as hospitals and insurers collect mountains of health data on individual Americans, most of their spending on extra data storage is for old-school systems on their own premises, according to researcher IDC.
The public-cloud kingpins are trying to lure health-care providers with artificially intelligent cloud services that can act like doctors. The companies are testing, and in some cases marketing, AI software that automates mundane tasks including data entry; consulting work like patient management and referrals; and even the diagnostic elements of highly skilled fields such as pathology.
Amazon Web Services, the dominant cloud provider, is processing and storing genomics data for biotech companies and clinical labs. No. 2 Microsoft’s cloud unit plans to store DNA records, and its Healthcare Next system provides automated data entry and certain cancer treatment recommendations to doctors based on visible symptoms.
Google seems to be betting most heavily on health-care analysis as a way to differentiate its third-place cloud offerings. Gregory Moore, vice president for health care, says he’s readying Google Cloud for a world of “diagnostics as a service.” In this world, AI could always be on hand to give doctors better information—or replace them altogether.
The cloud division is refining its genomics data analysis and working to make Google Glass, the augmented-reality headgear that consumers didn’t want, a product more useful to doctors. German cancer specialist Alacris Theranostics GmbH leans on Google infrastructure to pair patients with drug therapies, something Google hopes more companies will do. “Health-care systems are ready,” says Moore, an engineer and former radiologist. “People are seeing the potential of being able to manage data at scale…”