Primary Care Artificial Intelligence: A Branch Hiding in Plain Sight

In a review in this issue of Annals, Kueper et al have uncovered one such zone at the interface between computer science and primary care by describing a collection of research that has been hiding in plain sight since 1986. By connecting 2 disciplines, these 405 articles constitute an area of focus—primary care artificial intelligence—that may be new to primary care researchers but has already generated an impressive compilation.

Despite this body of work, primary care artificial intelligence has failed to transform primary care due to a lack of engagement from the primary care community. Similar to health information technology, primary care artificial intelligence should aim to improve care delivery and health outcomes; using this benchmark, it has yet to make an impact. Even though its history spans 4 decades, primary care artificial intelligence remains in the “early stages of maturity” because few tools have been implemented. Changing primary care is difficult when only 1 out of every 7 of these papers includes a primary care author.2 Without input from primary care, these teams may fail to grasp the context of primary care data collection, its role within the health system, and the forces shaping its evolution.