We spoke to Damien Marmion, the former Chief Executive, at AXA Global Health – who’ll keynote at this year’s AI Summit in London – about how AI is being adopted by businesses in 2017, and how it’ll change industry in the future, in particular, healthcare.

Damien Marmion, former Chief Executive, Global Health, AXA
Damien Marmion, former Chief Executive, Global Health, AXA

Damien Marmion, a medical graduate with over 20 years business management experience working for companies such as BUPA and most recently AXA, is considered to be one of the leading experts in the health insurance sector. Having been heavily involved in innovation within this area of industry, we were keen to get his insight into how artificial intelligence is contributing to healthcare and insurance, and how this new technology will change the industry in the future.

We began our conversation with Marmion, who’s one of the key speakers at the AI Summit London, by asking him which areas of business did he see AI having the biggest effect within the healthcare sector. “The biggest effect of AI is on our ability to build, format and analyse meaningful information about patients, their needs and best course of action for their health,” he began.

“So this has to be the area of health delivery first and foremost. AI will help measure the effect of treatment pathways and integrate patient monitoring into intelligent management of disease progression. In my view this has to start with doctors and hospitals, failing that insurers and state systems will have to force this,” explained Marmion.

However, with the rise of AI technologies, we wanted to know how important it is within the healthcare and insurance sectors, and how Marmion thought it will change things going forward. “It is very important,” he replied. “At the moment we have a massive amount of waste in the the health system. Some estimates in the USA are up to 30% of health costs are related to waste. Now I am not sure what it is in the UK. But in the context of a state system that is financially challenged we need to make sure waste is eliminated so we are getting the maximum from our budgets.”

He then started to elaborate more on how important AI is in the insurance sector. “The same applies in insurance, we have to make sure that the premiums are affordable, which means eliminating waste and getting the best quality care for the price customers are willing to pay,” he finished.

AI is one of 2017’s most used buzzwords. Not only are mainstream media outlets giving it more coverage (often negative), but businesses are also beginning to adopt AI into their companies. So we asked Marmion whether he could comment on what the rate of adoption of AI will be industry wide in 2017. “We are at the early phase of adoption in health,” stated Marmion. “Other industries are ahead of health. I see health taking off over the next few years. It has to, and all the signs are there that it will,” he detailed.

However, Marmion pointed out how important it is for businesses to invest in AI now, if they want to reap the rewards in the years to come. “It does mean that we have to invest today to help us get the benefit of AI in future years. It is not an instant fix that we can just throw at health systems.”

Yet, there will be challenges for companies looking to adopt AI, and we asked Marmion whether he could outline them and how he thought they would tackle these barriers. “The biggest challenges are all about change management,” he replied. “This is unfamiliar territory for many people. Yes there are cost decisions, people decisions and proof of concept that needs to take place which are all complex and require time.

Marmion then highlighted one key challenge. “Perhaps one challenge that needs highlighting is that the benefit of AI comes when you have standardised data, processes etc. Without this the complexity increases,” he offered.

“So yes there are many complex issues which require attention, but these are no greater than complexities businesses have faced over the last decade in terms of IT change or people change. So for me the same principles we have used before need to be applied in change management to help tackle the AI opportunity,” concluded Marmion.

Finally, we concluded over conversation with Marmion by asking him what he thought the adoption of AI will be in the healthcare and insurance industry in five years’ time. “I personally am very optimistic on AI,” he answered.

“It could be the key to unlock the issue we face in terms of efficient health systems. Improving cost effectiveness and productivity of the health system. I hope that in 5 years we will have wide spread adoption in private systems and major roll out in the state systems around Europe. That is the more challenging and perhaps less certain adoption area, the state systems, it could take much longer there due to the stakeholders and budget constraints,” finished Marmion.

You can hear more of Damien Marmion’s thoughts on AI in healthcare and insurance during his keynote presentation at The AI Summit in London, which is close at hand (May 9th and 10th).