Assessing the Economic Value of Clinical Artificial Intelligence: Challenges and Opportunities

Abstract

Objectives: Clinical artificial intelligence (AI) is a novel technology, and few economic evaluations have focused on it to date. Before its wider implementation, it is important to highlight the aspects of AI that challenge traditional health technology assessment methods. Methods: We used an existing broad value framework to assess potential ways AI can provide good value for money. We also developed a rubric of how economic evaluations of AI should vary depending on the case of its use. Results: We found that the measurement of core elements of value—health outcomes and cost—are complicated by AI because its generalizability across different populations is often unclear and because its use may necessitate reconfigured clinical processes. Clinicians’ productivity may improve when AI is used. If poorly implemented though, AI may also cause clinicians’ workload to increase. Some AI has been found to exacerbate health disparities. Nevertheless, AI may promote equity by expanding access to medical care and, when properly trained, providing unbiased diagnoses and prognoses. The approach to assessment of AI should vary based on its use case: AI that creates new clinical possibilities can improve outcomes, but regulation and evidence collection may be difficult; AI that extends clinical expertise can reduce disparities and lower costs but may result in overuse; and AI that automates clinicians’ work can improve productivity but may reduce skills. Conclusions: The potential uses of clinical AI create challenges for health technology assessment methods originally developed for pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Health economists should be prepared to examine data collection and methods used to train AI, as these may impact its future value.

Publication
Value in Health
Nathaniel Hendrix
Nathaniel Hendrix
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

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