Mar 03 '17

Artificial Intelligence: Healthcare’s latest medical breakthrough?

At Cronin, we’re always keeping an eye open for the latest advances in technology because we know how fast the latest and greatest can rock our client’ worlds (for better or worse.) We recently dove into Artificial Intelligence (AI) to explore how it’s transforming the healthcare industry.

While artificial intelligence isn’t new, its presence in healthcare is being felt in a big way. As patient data becomes digitized and wearables and sensors capture more health and activity data than ever before, AI is being looked at to help turn numbers into actionable insights. Synthesizing of data is big business. It enables providers to better design treatment plans, predict outcomes, and even help patients manage chronic diseases. Technology leaders, IBM and Google, are leading the pack with their AI offerings but the area is also fertile ground for small start-ups with niche offerings. And as AI transforms healthcare, healthcare marketers are going to need to keep up with it.

At the heart of AI, there’s Cognitive Computing.

According to Forbes: “Industry analysts… predict that 30 percent of providers will use cognitive analytics with patient data by 2018.”

Cognitive Computing is set to explode in the next few years. These computers are essentially self-learning networks that mimic the functionality of the human brain. Just as a human is able to learn and improve, cognitive computers can learn too.  Cognitive computing is really at the heart of most AI devices, providing the brainpower. What makes cognitive computing so unique is the speed of processing, the constant learning, and also the ability for some to project human-like empathy.

Here are five of the coolest emerging AI devices set to disrupt healthcare.


IBM’s Watson Health is a cognitive computer that can digest and process large amounts of information securely and almost instantaneously. IBM has clocked Watson at digesting 200 pages of information in 3 seconds. It can take health symptoms and compare them against thousands of clinical studies, like-patient records and medical literature to pinpoint a potential diagnosis and then offer up a recommended treatment approach based on what’s worked before.  According to IBM, 80% of the health data that currently exists is inaccessible rendering it useless.  Watson is able to cut through the obstruction and put the data to work.

IBM has partnered with some of the best minds in healthcare to be sure that Watson is learning from those on the cutting edge including a cancer care partnership with world renowned doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering among others.


Acquired by Google in 2014, DeepMind is Google’s cognitive computing interface. DeepMind has undergone rapid expansion and its team doubled in size in 2016; which is a tribute to Google’s belief in the project. In doing so they also picked up some notable minds in the IT and securities space.  Google is currently partnering with the National Health Service which oversees healthcare in England, Scotland and Wales to help bring the technology along. Admittedly, DeepMind is not as developed as Watson but the technology is already being used in some very cool ways to help improve diagnosis, care and efficiency in patient health.


Medical Sieve is another cognitive IBM device. Sieve is a cognitive assistant tool that can sift through analytics, evaluate clinical knowledge and apply reasoning to help make informed decisions around radiology and cardiology. Sieve is aptly named as its goal is to reduce the viewing load on physicians by weeding out the essentials for them.

Medical Sieve could change imaging in a number of ways including helping to prevent incorrect diagnoses, bringing radiologic help to areas without access to a radiologist and pinpointing anomalies undetected by the human eye.


Molly is a new virtual nurse to help patients with medication management by Molly acts as a patient support between doctors visits. She’s a “smart assistant” which uses machine based learning to offer monitoring and follow-up care. Molly is focused on helping manage chronic diseases. predicts that Molly saves health care providers 20% of their time.


AiCure is currently being used by the National Institute of Health (NIH) to ensure patients are following proper protocol when taking their medications. The app uses AI and a patient’s smartphone camera to tell that prescription instructions are being followed. The camera-based monitoring helps ensure the right person is taking the right medication at the right time.

So why does all this matter for healthcare marketers?

AI is helping finally usher in the promise of more personalized medicine.  Aside from the excitement this provides from a messaging standpoint as it relates to overall health and wellness, the expansion of this smart technology also means:

More touch points: AI means that healthcare organizations are poised to have even more touch points with those they service than ever before. This means more connectivity outside the practice walls and an unprecedented opportunity to foster patient loyalty. Think about it, with apps like Molly and AiCure, patients will be able to have interactive relationships with their health providers wherever they go.  This increased tech usage and connectivity means that marketers will have more ways than ever in which to connect with patients.

Expanded brand experience: Having more touch points also means that marketers will have to have a discerning brand lens when it comes to how to develop and package technologies or choose who to partner with to bring them to life.  Things like language, user experience, tone as well as look and feel will need to be carefully aligned with the organization’s brand in order to help to have patients positively associate the technology to the healthcare organization. Smart marketers will look to take advantage of customizable solutions that help augment their brand experience.

Capitalize on empathy:  One of the main differentiators between AI and the computers of today is the ability to project empathy and understanding. In the sterile healthcare space, this feature can easily be overlooked in favor of functionality. With the expansion and adoption of more and more AI platforms, marketers should look for creative uses for this empathetic technology to help put patients and their families at ease.

Smart marketers will be able to leverage the increased touch points, better experience and greater connectivity with patients to build brand loyalty.

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