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October 13, 2023

Harnessing the power of gen AI to reimagine healthcare

This breakthrough technology can help health leaders transform their operations and improve patient outcomes.

This article was written by Sashi Padarthy, AVP Healthcare Consulting, Cognizant and Niloy Chakrabarty, Senior Director, Consulting. This perspective originally appeared on

Generative artificial intelligence (AI), an advanced form of neural network that’s able to create new content—including text, images, and audio—from existing data, has captured the attention and imagination of leaders across every industry, including healthcare. While there is still a lot to learn about the technology and the full scope of its potential for healthcare organizations, one thing is for certain, according to a Forrester report: Ignoring it would be a costly mistake. Generative AI has the power to transform healthcare in once unfathomable ways. It helps clinicians make more informed decisions faster and with greater accuracy while improving patient’s involvement in care, and as a result, it has the potential to significantly improve healthcare outcomes.

Generative AI is poised to become a $17.2 billion market in healthcare by 2032.

According to Sashi Padarthy, Head of Strategy and Partner in Healthcare Consulting at Cognizant, the technology not only has benefits for all industry stakeholders, but it also has the potential to streamline and improve their interactions to help the entire health system operate more smoothly by enhancing patient care and reducing clinician burden and payer-provider friction.

“There are three key stakeholders in healthcare—payers, providers, and patients—and they all engage with one another,” says Padarthy. “There are generative AI use cases for each stakeholder specifically, and then there are use cases for how the technology can help address the friction points among them. It is in the latter where generative AI can have greatest immediate impact as a true rational agent guiding communication in a manner that is more contextual and empathetic to patient care.”

Enabling better clinical decision-making and reducing burnout for providers

When it comes to helping providers, generative AI can enable back and front offices to tackle a huge volume of day-to-day tasks more quickly and thoroughly. Office administrators have to juggle documentation and recordkeeping, billing, contract management, and regulatory submissions—all of which generative AI tools can help automate by compiling and assessing relevant information and data and generating content accordingly. On the front end, physicians can use the technology to parse through patients’ data and provide summaries of their medical histories; analyze clinical tests and lab results; write up detailed, personalized discharge instructions; and respond to patient emails.

Generative AI can also act as an agent that can summarize physician conversations and help draw clinical and other insights from them, such as socioeconomic barriers the patients may face in following the doctor’s instructions. The technology frees doctors from performing many administrative tasks and acts as an analyst with the ability to compile clinical evidence and research papers to help doctors make decisions.

In addition, the ability of generative AI to merge image analysis with medical data can be instrumental for physicians in diagnosing patients.

“There are a lot of sophisticated AI models that can analyze images to detect cancer or predict the propagation of diabetes or other conditions,” says Niloy Chakrabarty, Senior Director of Healthcare Consulting at Cognizant. “Generative AI can then pull text from medical data, records, and annotations from recorded conversations between doctors and patients and consolidate everything into clinical notes. Different types of data, including cutting-edge research papers, that were once used independently can now come together holistically to drive decisions.”

Overall, today’s physicians are overloaded, and generative AI can significantly decrease that load to benefit themselves and the patients they serve.

“Burnout is a significant concern for today’s physicians,” says Padarthy. “They may be seeing 18 patients in a day, and every one requires various forms of clinical documentation. Being able to take some of the burden off physicians is a very high-value use case for generative AI.”

Helping payers to simplify healthcare

U.S. healthcare is notoriously complex for a large part of the population. The greatest benefit of generative AI for payers is its ability to improve communication and transparency with healthcare consumers and help simplify their decision-making. As an example, generative AI can make explanations of benefits (EOBs) and health plan coverage simpler for members. EOBs are remarkably difficult to comprehend, with one in three healthcare consumers feeling confused or frustrated after receiving one, so making them more straightforward and user-friendly could go a long way in benefitting the provider-patient relationship.

Another valuable generative AI use case for payers is accelerating the process of prior authorization or the preapproval of coverage for certain treatments and medications before patients receive care.

“Prior authorization can be very onerous, with a lot of back and forth between payers and providers,” says Padarthy. “Generative AI can expedite this process while making it more transparent, help minimize unnecessary communications, and create more comprehensive submissions by bringing together clinical data that already exists from a variety of sources.”

Enabling more comprehensive and personalized patient care

Every generative AI–enabled optimization that makes providers more efficient, thorough, and attentive and makes payers faster in dealing with claims and providing coverage will inevitably benefit the patients they serve. However, there are also some ways patients can take advantage of generative AI tools to guide their own personal health journeys, explain Chakrabarty and Padarthy. For example, people with diabetes or other chronic conditions can use the technology, often provided by their healthcare providers or payers, in tandem with smart medical devices to generate real-time data that aids with self-monitoring and modulation. Health systems and payers have started embracing generative AI as a customer communication channel to provide detailed summaries of health information and customized recommendations on treatments, as well as to address a specific health concern.

“Some recent studies tell us that the bedside manner of chatbots is actually rated as better than that of a human doctor,” says Chakrabarty. “While the doctor is rushed because he or she is constantly under pressure to move onto the next patient, the chatbot can really take the time to understand the individual patient’s background and engage in a more involved way.”

Along with all the valuable use cases of generative AI comes a set of potential difficulties for healthcare leaders, mostly regarding broader concerns around ethics, privacy, and security. While there is no silver bullet to solve these complex problems, the issues can definitely be handled for specific application areas of generative AI. With these realities in mind, it is critical for organizations to carefully and strategically consider how they implement generative AI—and working with a trusted partner like Cognizant can help them in this effort.

“Our healthcare clients are at a stage where they are curious about how they can actively start using this technology,” says Chakrabarty. “We offer specific solutions and frameworks to think through functionality, safety, and the use cases that will actually generate business value.”

While there is no knowing what the next 10, or maybe even five, years of generative AI evolution will look like, healthcare leaders can act today to recognize the benefits of the technology for their businesses and patients.

“For the first time in history, we’re seeing computing systems achieve near-human levels of cognitive capability,” says Chakrabarty. “Generative AI is not just another tool to aid clinicians and physicians in their work. It is a technology that has the potential to be truly transformative for how we provide, consume, and finance healthcare.”

To learn more, visit the Generative AI section of our website or contact us.

Cognizant Insights Team

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