Hospitals focus in on integrating AI as market cools


As funding for healthcare artificial intelligence funding cools down in 2023, hospital leaders are targeting vendors that can be easily integrated within their system’s infrastructure. 

The healthcare AI vendor space has become increasingly crowded. More than half of the 1,500 healthcare AI vendors were founded within the last seven years. 

“This surge in AI-enabled solutions harbors immense potential to enhance both operational and clinical efficiencies and improve early disease detection and clinical decision-making,” said Richard Mulry, president of New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based Northwell Holdings. “However, for organizations to fully leverage this potential and the associated benefits, significant investments are concurrently needed across workforce education, cloud infrastructure, workflow redesign and care navigation, producing solutions that are truly integrated into the system.”

Despite the hype around AI tools, such as ChatGPT, funding for healthcare AI companies is expected to fall 28 percent year-over-year by the end of 2023. So far in 2023, healthcare AI companies have raised $2.6 billion across 192 deals.

To sift through the turmoil in the market, some hospital leaders are taking a more cautious approach. 

“The pace of innovation has exploded. It seems like every company we’re coming across today has some AI element in their story, or they should,” said Cleveland Clinic Ventures Partner Todd Schwarzinger. “We’re very much ‘wait and see’ for a lot of these AI-driven models. The pace of innovation might be accelerating quickly, but in digital health and health tech, you come across the issues of reality and implementation of these solutions.”

As big tech companies such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google enter the healthcare AI race, startups could feel even more pressure. However, big tech giants will face the same challenge of making sure that their AI tools actually embed within clinician workflows.

“The fact of the matter is that this will only succeed if it’s totally integrated with the workflow and the processes of physicians and nurses, and how they partner with the EHR giants, such as Epic, Cerner, Meditech, GE HealthCare and Athenahealth,” said Shafiq Rab, MD, CIO and chief digital officer of Boston-based Tufts on AWS’s new AI tool.