Health systems are evaluating AI beyond dollar signs

When it comes to evaluating the return on investment for AI initiatives, hospitals and health systems assess whether they lead to improved patient outcomes, patient experience and operational efficiency rather than measuring it only in dollars. 

This is because measuring AI's hard savings is difficult, Renton, Wash.-based Providence's CIO, BJ Moore, told Becker's.

"It's tough as a CIO to measure the actual hard savings," he said. "But the tangible savings are what we're seeing — reducing burnout and reducing turnover — you can't put a price on that. So we're just looking at where we can tangibly measure some productivity benefit, but we're not really focused on assigning a dollar amount to that."

Providence has developed several AI tools that are showing promise. Its generative AI-powered chatbot, Grace, has lowered the number of messages patients send to physicians by 30%, according to Mr. Moore. This outcome is the real tangible savings from artificial intelligence. 

Seattle Children's is taking a similar approach to measuring artificial intelligence ROI. Clara Lin, MD, associate vice president and chief medical information officer at the health system, told Becker's that revenue is not its only goal.

"If we can outline the human impact to our patients, the human impact to our employees or workforce, then we are demonstrating to the stakeholders that this matters," she said.

At Cleveland Clinic, measuring artificial intelligence ROI also comes with ensuring that any AI initiatives lead with a value proposition. For example, Rohit Chandra, PhD, the health system's chief digital officer, told Becker's that before embarking on AI projects, Cleveland Clinic asks questions such as, can I improve patient care with this? 

But the health system is also giving itself breathing room for exploring AI. 

"For mature technologies, Cleveland Clinic can make an ROI case in three to nine months," he said. "But for AI-powered projects, we are allowing ourselves that runway for exploration and risk taking knowing that some hypotheses will bear out more than others. We know that the ROI case may take longer, but directionally we have to have the belief that it's going to help."

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