COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of artificial intelligence in health care. AI-based tools and solutions can work quickly, be deployed at scale, and respond to the dynamic nature of the crisis. Use cases span all facets of responding to the pandemic, from diagnosis and triage to treatment and combating new transmission.

COVID-19’s Impact on Artificial Intelligence in Health Care

A wide range of players — including startups, established companies, universities, and more — are bringing their capabilities and perspectives to the table. Startups like Current Health, a U.K.-based remote-monitoring company supporting Mayo Clinic and Baptist Health with their COVID-19 responses, are contributing to the industry’s rapid digital adoption, and scaling quickly to meet demand. The CEO of Current Health told the Wall Street Journal in March that it could double its workforce to accommodate this increased interest.

On the other end of the spectrum, technology giants such as Microsoft, Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook are involved in initiatives related to remote communications between patients and clinicians, contact tracing, and drug development, among others. With their wide reach, capabilities, and financial resources, these players are in a unique position to impact the U.S.’s fragmented health-care system and capitalize on growing demand for consumer tools that put patients in control of their care.

Universities are playing an important role, too. Penn Medicine, for instance, designed a COVID-19 chatbot in partnership with Google that risk stratifies users to facilitate patient triage.

These developments are likely to impact the future of AI in health care. COVID-19 has spurred unprecedented data sharing and collaboration efforts., for example, has created a data lake accessible through APIs that contains a diverse and growing number of coronavirus-related data sets such as genomic sequences of virus samples and image data. These initiatives have the potential to establish new norms and infrastructures that support future AI development.

The issue of privacy and security concerns, particularly in relation to contact tracing, is also likely to further AI adoption by strengthening the case for universal privacy standards. Such standards increase consumer and health-care organizations’ comfort with third-party data sharing, which supports digital-health efforts such as remote patient monitoring and AI-driven therapy chatbots.


For more on COVID-19’s influence on AI in health care, read consulting firm Recon Strategy’s full analysis, authored by Consultant Sophie Ranen C17 and Managing Partner Nikhil Bhojwani WG02.