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Vedder Thinking | Articles Caitlin Podbielski and Angelique Salib Publish Feature Article on Artificial Intelligence for AHLA Magazine


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Caitlin C. Podbielski and Angelique M. Salib discuss potential applications of artificial intelligence technology in the health care provider setting relating to the pharmaceutical supply chain and physician prescribing in “When the Planet of the Apes Becomes the Planet of A.I.,” the feature article in the May issue of Connections, the magazine of the American Health Lawyers Association (AHLA).

The article also analyzes some of the key legal and regulatory constraints (or lack thereof) on the use of A.I. software and systems in the health care industry. “Tasking machines with roles traditionally performed by humans enters uncharted regulatory waters—laws are designed to regulate humans, not machines,” the authors state. Podbielski and Salib go on to explain that “Without significant and meaningful development in this area, there is a risk that the technology might significantly outpace the regulatory framework necessary to protect relevant stakeholders.”

The article discusses A.I. applications that could be applied to drug supply chain management and also help to reduce physician prescribing errors. For example, A.I. could identify prescribing patterns and other data to determine what drug inventories might be required at any given point in time. “From an internal perspective, utilizing intelligent systems can streamline functionalities to further improve efficiencies and reduce costs,” the authors state. “From an external perspective, a robust supply chain management system can better position hospitals to negotiate contracts by reducing the variability of operational costs (or at least a portion thereof), resulting in a more reliable price formula to stabilize margins over an extended contract period.”

Podbielski and Salib also discuss issues of medical and products liability in the article, and they raise the question of who is responsible when issues of liability arise. “Is it the physician, the software developer, or whoever inputted the initial algorithm into the system?” they ask hypothetically.

In conclusion, Podbielski and Salib look to the future, because A.I. in the health care arena is only going to become more common, and, as they state in the article, “the tools available for addressing the challenges of artificial intelligence applications may still be in their infancy, but the opportunities for efficiencies and better outcomes for hospitals, physicians, and patients through the use of artificial intelligence remain limitless.”

The American Health Lawyers Association is the nation’s largest, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) educational organization devoted to legal issues in the health care field with nearly 14,000 members.