GAO: AI Promising in Health Care, but Challenges Remain


The nascent technology is leading to positive health care outcomes, but issues may impede widespread adoption.

A joint report published Monday by the Government Accountability Office and the National Academy of Medicine outlines the potential benefits of artificial intelligence on the U.S. health care system.

The two-part report highlights how nascent clinical and administrative AI tools have already improved treatment options, reduced burden on providers and augmented patient care. However, the report identifies numerous challenges that could hinder further, widespread AI development in the health care system, including access to data, bias, transparency and privacy concerns, liability issues, and scaling and integration concerns.

AI has promising applications in health care, including augmenting patient care. For example, it may have the potential to improve treatment, reduce the burden on providers, and generally increase the efficiency with which health care facilities and providers use resources, resulting in potential cost savings or health gains,” the report states. “However, as might be expected with a tool with such broad potential use in health and health care decision-making, applying AI tools for health and health care also raises ethical, legal, economic, and social questions.”

To mitigate some of these challenges, GAO issued six policy recommendations, five of which address new actions by Congress and federal, state and local government officials. The recommendations encouraged collaboration between developers and health care providers; developing high-quality data access mechanisms; establishing best practices regarding AI technologies; workforce skill development and enhanced oversight mechanisms.