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Will artificial intelligence usher in the age of industrial medicine?

And if the healthcare experience doesn’t kill patients, it most definitely frustrates them: Patients in U.S. metropolitan areas reportedly wait an average of 24 days for a doctor’s appointment—up 30% since 2014.

The question is whether AI will enable a return to the human-focused care delivery of the past (a traditional, Norman Rockwell-esque healthcare model) or accelerate a move toward one that’s more impersonal and efficiency-minded (an industrial model of medicine).

As one primary care physician employed by a regional health system in New England told us: “One of the potential negatives of some of these technological innovations is that it makes the delivery of healthcare more impersonal.

You lose the human touch, the intuition that a practitioner can get from being in front of a patient, looking at her, assessing her tone of voice, how she presents herself—you know, her emotional state.” Some health systems are trying to retain elements of traditional medicine despite the emergence of tech solutions.

As this trend continues, we anticipate the following aspects of industrial medicine to infiltrate the current healthcare system: Industry stakeholders, regulators and investors seem to be clearing the way for AI’s entry.

The prospect of leveraging the technology to automate tedious tasks and free up humans to explore more fruitful endeavors is too attractive for providers to ignore, despite the budgeting sacrifices that may need to be made.

As the money keeps flowing into AI and investors continue to make big bets, it will be interesting to watch how the investments change in terms of overall volume, deal size, specific AI applications, etc.

We’re beginning to see signs of the transition to industrial medicine as the FDA warms to the idea of AI in healthcare: Commissioner Scott Gottlieb recently wrote that, “artificial intelligence (AI)...holds enormous promise for the future of medicine.” The federal agency is developing a data science incubator to encourage the use of AI in drug development, collaborating with cancer-research platform Project Data Sphere to develop algorithms to improve tumor classification, and launching “Pre-cert 1.0” to foster innovation and to ensure that AI-related solutions reach the market quickly.

Things seem to be evolving on a global regulatory front as well, with more tech-savvy countries such as Japan, Russia, Singapore and China working closely with the International Medical Device Regulators Forum to harmonize their regulatory approaches for digital health medical devices.

What 'Google health care' could look like in 5 years

By Jackie Kimmell, Senior Analyst Do you think you understand the full scope of Google's ambitions in health care?

Then there are the independent teams within Alphabet, such as anti-aging company Calico, life-sciences research arm Verily, and data-storage platform Google Cloud—all of which have aspirations in health care.

Did you know the company offers a spoon for people with movement disorders, or is working on a mosquito-fighting technology to prevent Zika?) It's a lot—more than could possibly be covered in a single article.

So rather than offering a comprehensive, and overwhelming, list of Google's projects, let's take a step back and ask a bigger question: What's the endgame for all of these ambitious, but seemingly disconnected, health care ventures?

Daily Briefing highlights six themes uniting Google's health care projects—and inherent within them, six visions for the future of 'Google health care.'

(Remember their tricorder project, which promised to use nanoparticles and magnets for early disease detection?) But the company's recent strategy appears more focused on incremental developments built through industry partnerships, which could prove to be firmer footing.

To learn more about what other tech giants are doing in health care, be sure to read about 'What 'Amazon health care' could look like in 5 years' and 'The 5 ways Apple wants to transform health care.'

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