Artificial intelligence systems for health care have the potential to transform the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, which could help ensure that patients get the right treatment at the right time, but opportunities and challenges are ahead.

In a new article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, two AI experts discuss the best uses for AI in health care and outline some of the challenges for implementing the technology in hospitals and clinics.

In health care, artificial intelligence relies on the power of computers to sift through and make sense of reams of electronic data about patients—including ages, medical histories, health status, test results, medical images, DNA sequences, and many other sources of health information.

AI excels at the complex identification of patterns in these reams of data, and can do so at a scale and speed beyond human capacity. The hope is that this technology can be harnessed to help doctors and patients make better health-care decisions.

Here, the authors—Philip Payne, a professor at and director of the Institute for Informatics, and Thomas M. Maddox, a professor of medicine and director of the Health Systems Innovation Lab, both at Washington University in St. Louis—answer questions about AI, including its capabilities and limitations, and how it might change the way doctors practice.