Artificial intelligence will become “increasingly meaningful” for GE HealthCare’s revenue growth over the next three to five years, according to analysts at Moody's Investors Service.
The analysts believe GE HealthCare’s AI medical imaging software currently makes a “relatively modest” contribution to sales but see potential for that to change in the coming years.
Even if AI is “just modestly accretive,” the analysts said it could support the longer-term targets at GE HealthCare and its competitors, which typically forecast mid- to high-single-digit growth.
The Moody's analysts made the forecasts in a report on the impact of AI on medical imaging, devices and other parts of the healthcare industry. As the analysts explain, manufacturers of medical imaging devices are using AI to enhance image quality and boost provider productivity. The technology could cut the time it takes radiologists to review scans, improving their workflow and mitigating staff shortages.
“We think scan volumes will initially shift to providers that adopt the technology if results prove to be more accurate, exemplified by lower callback rates and lower false positives and negatives,” they wrote.
The analysts also see the potential for AI to enable periodic screenings for more types of cancer in the longer term.
Imaging manufacturers will need to overcome barriers to the adoption of AI to establish the technology as a key growth driver. The analysts name provider concerns about data privacy and security, and the need to train physicians to use new resources, as factors that could constrain growth. There are also questions about whether healthcare providers and payers will embrace AI and accept the associated costs.
“Some healthcare providers may be wary of entering into long-term contracts that add to their overhead costs, even if the benefits are compelling. And insurance companies and other payers may be reluctant to cover some services,” the analysts wrote. “Imaging companies believe payers would benefit from AI because early cancer detection and fewer biopsies would lower their costs.”
The Moody's report also features a section on the application of AI to medical products and devices. In that section, the analysts present examples of how companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic and Zimmer Biomet are using AI to monitor and treat the recipients of their cardiovascular, diabetes and orthopedic devices.
For example, Zimmer has partnered with Canary Medical for smart implant devices that are embedded with sensors to collect data on patients after knee replacements, and Medtronic uses an algorithm for a hybrid closed-loop insulin delivery system, which automatically delivers insulin to a patient based on readings from a continuous glucose monitor.
The analysts wrote that medical device companies are integrating AI into their products and systems to “improve and develop new offerings and create new revenue opportunities.” They added that while companies can increase their competitive advantage by adopting AI, “remote monitoring of healthcare data can also increase device companies' cyber and regulatory risk.”