To build or to buy healthcare AI tools?

As healthcare organizations look to implement more AI tools, the question of whether to build or buy continues to be an ongoing conversation.

"We're still so early in all of this, but it initially starts with asking, what is the problem we're trying to solve? And then, how do we solve that problem with AI?" Clara Lin, MD, associate vice president and chief medical information officer at Seattle Children's told Becker's

Dr. Lin says from there, she considers the different ways that her organization can solve this problem, and once that is outlined, organizations can begin to identify the use case and the potential solution to then build the business case. 

"For the business case, we have to define the ROI for this, particularly that dollar amount, the non-dollar and the non-financial ROI," she said. "So the question we'll ask is, what will be the impact on quality if this tool is implemented? What is the impact on employee retention? What is the impact on patient safety? All these things are not measured in dollars."

Additionally, organizations must then measure the dollar impact, such as how many more patients they can see each day with the tool.

"So in outlining those things and the cost, I think that's where build versus buy comes in," Dr. Lin said. "Then we do a market analysis to see what existing technology is out there that we can purchase, that we can then tweak to solve this problem. Or, if we were to build it ourselves, what's the cost theory and what's the time to implement? We're looking at all of those things."

Dr. Lin said by prioritizing ROI, cost and time to implementation, Seattle Children's can begin to identify the most impactful decision to make. 

"Ideally, we're aiming for high-impact solutions that can be implemented quickly and affordably so that we can demonstrate to our C-suite, our CEO and patients that this can be done safely, well and cost effectively," she said. "So that's kind of how we're approaching this." 

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