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Augmented intelligence, telehealth usage are 2020 health-tech trends to watch

➤ While artificial intelligence is on the rise, providers' interest in augmented intelligence is growing, too.

➤ Telehealth adoption may finally take off.

➤ Healthcare industry increasing focus on cybersecurity as operational and treatment strategies rely more on technology.

Jason Krantz is the founder and CEO of Definitive Healthcare LLC, which provides data, intelligence and analytics on hospitals, physicians and other healthcare providers. Krantz spoke to S&P Global Market Intelligence about healthcare technology trends to watch in 2020, including the rise of augmented intelligence and cybersecurity. The following interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

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Jason Krantz, founder and CEO of Definitive Healthcare
Source: Definitive Healthcare

S&P Global Market Intelligence: What do you see as some major healthcare technology trends in 2020?

Jason Krantz: Artificial intelligence is obviously picking up steam everywhere. What we're seeing is it's much more about augmented intelligence rather than just artificial intelligence and I think as patients we should feel good about that. The concept is really how can we use technology to make our doctors more efficient, help reduce the potential for error, but also empower doctors to use creativity and come up with the best care plans for their patients based on all of this additional information.

The other thing we see accelerating is the adoption of telehealth. I feel like telehealth has been talked about in theory for a long time, but it is really starting to pick up steam.

Do you think some providers or health systems lack a clear strategy for how to integrate AI technology into already established treatment or operational models?

One hundred percent. I think that there's so much you can do with data and there is so much data that organizations are collecting. Getting that information is great, but using that information to improve patient care is really the next goal. AI is certainly a part of that, but people are struggling with getting started.

Organizations that have done a good job are not trying to do everything; that is expensive and there's no real ROI for the patient or for the health system. However, if you focus on something specific like medical imaging in radiology, for example, then I think you can see the real cost impact.

Are providers and other healthcare companies making privacy a top priority as they rely more on technology?

In order to really use technology like AI at the patient level, you need to be able to share data and you need interoperability of data. Multiple systems need to access it. As a result, the number of consumers of this data has gone way up, so security becomes a bigger and bigger issue. And if you look at what's happened — the healthcare industry accounts for every four out of every five data breaches — it is a real problem. But I think it's being managed through good techniques like the de-identification of data.

When you look at technology like AI, the amount of money that companies are putting into security and improvement there has been spectacular.

Do you see tech companies like Apple Inc. and Google LLC getting more involved in healthcare and becoming big players in the industry over the next few years?

There's no doubt whatsoever. Google has multiple different healthcare verticals. Amazon.com Inc. is heavily in healthcare; both from things like [the online pharmacy] PillPack Inc. and Amazon's distribution ability all the way up to helping providers analyze their data. They have an entire healthcare group that is looking to help people analyze data in real-time. And Apple is obviously heavily involved in the healthcare space.

I know that it's a constantly evolving situation, but can you comment on how technology can be used in events like the ongoing coronavirus outbreak?

If someone goes into a doctor's office and symptoms are properly entered into the electronic health record system, you can use technology like artificial intelligence to help the doctor potentially diagnose a patient, which is to some extent the future of AI within healthcare. The system can be used to go through all of that data, to go through the lab tests, to suggest or come up with what potential issues are happening with the patients or what drugs have been the most effective.

In a future state, you can program these systems to help people identify something like the coronavirus in real-time. It improves the way that we can make sure the outbreak doesn't continue and extend further. Unfortunately, I don't think this is happening today, certainly not on a large scale basis. But I think in the future that's exactly the type of thing these systems will be able to help.