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by | Apr 29, 2018 | Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Machine Vision, Technology

At our recent Tech Summit, I spoke about one of technology’s top trends, artificial intelligence. It’s playing a bigger role than ever in health care. You just might not recognize how.


Joe Bastante is the Chief Technology Officer at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. He leads our IT investment strategy with over 25 years of technology leadership and consulting experience across many industries. Joe ensures our technology enables us to achieve our mission to lead the healthcare transformation with an unwavering commitment to quality, affordability and exceptional experience. He’s passionate about understanding the inner workings of technology, separating hype from fact, and finding a fast path to business value.


From improving health care processes to predicting when you might need to go into the hospital, AI is improving many aspects of the way we obtain and pay for medical care. Most patients aren’t aware – yet – of what goes on to make AI a reality in health care.

But it won’t be long before health care providers and insurers unlock even more AI capabilities to help improve the quality and cost of care. Here are my thoughts on how this will happen.


For many Americans, the concept of AI was introduced in 1968 with the release of 2001: A Space Odyssey one of the most influential sci-fi movies of all time. The story predicted that by the dawn of the 21st century, we would co-exist with intelligent machines that could think like us. And as the movie told it, those machines might even try to out-think us.

Well, 2001 came and went without the emergence of human-like robots. Yet, if we look beyond the inflated expectations, AI maturity and growth has gained plenty of steam in recent years. And for people in tech careers, that’s exciting.

Let’s consider why AI growth has accelerated and the implications for health care.

In large measure, it boils down to money. Large organizations have invested heavily because they see business potential in AI. For example, IBM has invested $15 billion in Watson and related products. Google has invested $3.9 billion in AI acquisitions alone.

Startups are also a good indicator of technology growth. Venture capital investment in AI moved slowly and steadily in the ‘90s and 2000s. Then, in 2012, investment in AI exploded.

AI growth also has been fueled by the maturity and availability of AI software, especially open source platforms and libraries. With literally $0 software investment, any organization can install, learn, and deploy highly-capable AI solutions. Of course, hardware grows faster each year and many companies, such as Intel, are building computer processors that are optimized for AI. More powerful hardware, highly capable software, and extensive financial investment have created the perfect conditions for AI.

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