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AI's health care hype

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Two new studies highlight artificial intelligence's potential to improve patient care, specifically by aiding or improving cancer detection.

Why it matters: AI could create enormous benefits for patients and the doctors who treat them, but some experts warn that the explosion of new health technology could put some patients in danger, as the L.A. Times and Kaiser Health News recently reported.

Driving the news: Brain surgeons are using AI and new imaging techniques to diagnose brain tumors just as accurately as human doctors, but much faster, according to a study released yesterday in Nature Medicine.

  • Just last week, Google's health research unit said — in Nature — that it has developed artificial intelligence technology that can detect breast cancer at least as well as radiologists, WSJ reports.

Yes, but: "Many health industry experts fear AI-based products won’t be able to match the hype."

  • "Some doctors and consumer advocates fear that the tech industry, which lives by the mantra 'fail fast and fix it later,' is putting patients at risk ― and that regulators aren’t doing enough to keep consumers safe," KHN's Liz Szabo writes.
  • For example, a widely used algorithm was proven to discriminate against minorities, and many new AI products are untested and unproven.

The bottom line: We've got a long way to go before AI lives up to its hype within the health care system.

Go deeper: Medical AI has a big data problem