The Future of AI in Cancer Care

June 3, 2019

Oncologists recognize the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) in improving the quality of care and patient outcomes according to new research.

Oncologists recognize the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) in improving the quality of care and patient outcomes according to new research.

The fifth edition of Oncology Insights, a research-based report series analyzing the views of more than 180 U.S. oncologists, from Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions, found that overall, participating oncologists are optimistic AI will improve both patient care and practice operations.

When asked about the future impact of AI on the oncology industry, 53% of participating oncologists said they are “excited.” More than half of oncologists said they anticipate AI will help enhance the quality of care (53%), improve clinical outcomes (57%), and drive operational efficiencies (58%) in three or more years. Nearly half (47%) also expect it to lower the cost of care.

“The potential of AI-based tools to improve care and lower healthcare costs is significant,” says Bruce Feinberg, DO, vice president and chief medical officer for Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions.

As evidence of this, public and private investment in healthcare AI is expected to reach $6.6 billion by 2021, according to Forbes.

Related: Three Reasons AI Is ‘Wildly Different’ Than Other Healthcare Technologies

 “Healthcare systems will play a key role in the early adoption and use of this technology,” Feinberg says. “Our research may help healthcare executives better understand the expectations and concerns oncologists have about these tools, and identify potential barriers that will need to be addressed as new technology is introduced into practice.”

Unique findings

Other report findings include:

  • One in three oncologists (36%) said AI will have a significant impact on oncology care over the next few years.

  • When asked to identify the most valuable benefit that AI could provide to their practice, 37% said automating administrative tasks to allow oncologists to focus more on patients and 27% said identifying best treatment paths to help them choose the right drug the first time.

  • Oncologists also cited the potential to predict patients most at risk of complications and the ability to enhance the accuracy of diagnostics as key opportunities for AI to improve oncology care.

  • Top concerns about using AI in practice included the need for clinical trial data to show effectiveness (29%), the potential for bias in algorithms (27%), and oncologists’ own lack of familiarity with the technology (27%).

“The potential breakthroughs in oncology treatment make this the most exciting time in history to provide care to cancer patients,” Feinberg says. “At the same time, oncologists face unprecedented challenges including growing patient volumes, rising costs, increasing regulatory pressures, increasing industry consolidation, and changing reimbursement models. Emerging tools such as AI have the potential to help ease some of these burdens for oncologists-but, if not understood and used effectively, they could also add to the complexity.”