Can 4 Major AI Technology Vendors Be Successful in Healthcare?

There was a time when artificial intelligence was no more than a figment of science-fiction consumers’ imaginations. Stories of civilizations built by machines and robots coming alive have permeated the genre for generations. Today, AI looks a little different than the visions of past artists, but it still might be said that computer engineers are creating a form of life. 

Nowhere is that truer than with four major AI vendors: Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and IBM are investing heavily in AI, and all are expanding their presence in healthcare. Can these companies successfully use the artificial minds of their algorithms to save human lives?

Market Perception

In our latest AI report, we went the extra mile and measured not only the AI purchasing decisions of payer and provider organizations but also their perceptions of those four major AI vendors.

What is the general consensus? Well, healthcare organizations have both positive and negative perceptions of all of these vendors. However, the group is generally perceived as average so far. There is one common concern among many healthcare organizations using AI: can these vendors successfully transition into the healthcare industry? 

There is no doubt that the vendors have been successful in other industries, but healthcare is highly regulated. Specific domain expertise and operational requirements are needed that the technology vendors may not be prepared for. 

Take a look at this quote from a medical director whose organization has implemented AI: “[Our product] was specifically designed for healthcare purposes. [Our vendor] is always asking about how their technology can help us take care of patients. But commercial companies are used to working in different spheres. They have no connections to the healthcare.”

A Closer Look

Let’s take a quick look through the microscope at the perception of these vendors’ healthcare AI offerings:

perceived strength of healthcare ai offering

Microsoft

Healthcare organizations tend to feel that Microsoft has more healthcare expertise than the other three AI vendors because they have already had some success in the industry. That may be why they have the highest numbers for strong to very strong perceived strength, as shown in the graph above.

Reports one respondent, “I have a theory that Microsoft is the best at being number two and then drifting ahead. They positioned Power BI as a cheap facsimile of Tableau's product, but then a few years later, Power BI passed Tableau's product. That is Microsoft's model.” 

People with less-than-favorable perceptions discuss Microsoft’s complicated contracting, slow responsiveness, and tendency to overpromise and underdeliver.

Google

It is no secret that Google has a great reputation for their AI capabilities and advanced algorithms. However, healthcare organizations don’t view Google’s platforms to be quite as strong as those of other vendors. 

A particular concern for some is Google’s open-source information and what that might mean for healthcare organizations that are bound by government-regulated privacy concerns. As one chief analytics officer put it, “Google's traditional plan in the market is to get people's data so that Google can be their analytics team and find smart data. Google wants people's data.”

Amazon

Over the past few years, Amazon has made several investments in healthcare. They are gaining mindshare, and the adoption of their cloud services through vendor partnership—which includes AI tools—is on the rise. Amazon has a great track record for innovation and great technology, but some healthcare organizations are skeptical about the vendor’s strategy as well as their products’ integration capabilities. 

According to one data science expert, “We could quickly tell with a high degree of certainty whether a patient was going to be readmitted, but the vendor wasn’t there as a partner to help us integrate the product with our operations side so that we knew what to do.”

IBM

IBM  has been involved in healthcare much longer than any of the other vendors, so their offerings are definitely more seasoned. However, real outcomes have been slow to materialize. That has led more than half of respondents to view their technology as weak. The vendor has a reputation for not keeping their promises and offering insufficient support. 

Says one managing partner, “IBM  isn't pushing the business forward. Small and nimble companies are best positioned to succeed in AI.”

Future Possibilities

Though Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and IBM are very real in the minds of AI connoisseurs, the reality is that most of these vendors have very few AI customers in healthcare. As these vendors develop their offerings and pioneering healthcare organizations partner with them, KLAS will be watching. Keep an eye out for our future reports.



Photo Credit: Adobe Stock, pict rider