Understanding How Generative AI is Changing the Health Care and Legal Industries

Communities and businesses play a crucial role in shaping the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy. To inform our decision-making, the San Francisco Fed hosts discussions with the people we serve so we can hear their stories and perspectives on how economic data translates into real impacts in the Twelfth District. Our “Beyond the Numbers” series shares some of those insights with you.

Although relatively new for a wide generalized audience, generative artificial intelligence (AI) has already begun to change our economy, and it seems poised to drive even more fundamental changes in the future. The power of generative AI to alter business practices and the world of work is one of the hottest topics in conversations about this emerging technology. To better understand current and possible future uses of AI in the context of the Twelfth District’s economy, Laura Monfredini, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, and Christina Prkic, Vice President and Regional Executive, convened a roundtable of business leaders representing the legal and health care sectors to discuss their current approach to generative AI.

The generative AI transformation is underway

Asked by Laura and Christina about their current use of generative AI, the panel’s participants noted the increasing use of the technology especially in the areas of process improvement, automating certain search functions and data collection, and in creating content. For example, the representative of the healthcare industry cited how they are using generative AI to make updating medical charts more efficient. In the legal arena, a panelist reported that firms are deploying generative AI to improve e-discovery, accelerating legal research, and expanding the effectiveness of compliance initiatives.  All of the roundtable participants felt generative AI was useful in generating documents, including editing and summarizing them.

As the panelists made clear, these uses of generative AI have or will influence business practices and contribute to a significant redefinition of the tasks employees perform. Panel participants representing the legal sector pointed to the potential of generative AI to alter fee arrangements and contribute to fewer billable hours.  They further noted that the current integration of AI into their industry has meant that junior lawyers are doing different types of work; they are receiving more substantive work assignments and moving away from the typical tasks assigned to first-year lawyers. All of the roundtable participants felt that the integration of generative AI into the workplace was driving changes in talent development and said that they have started to emphasize more AI learning in their internal trainings.

Expect more change to come

Looking to the future, the business leaders saw generative AI as a permanent feature of their businesses. They forecast that job types and roles, which are to a certain extent already changing because of the use of the technology, will shift to a significant degree.  The participants also believe that AI will contribute to changes in how productivity is measured.

Asked whether generative AI will drive job losses, the panel participants had a mixed outlook. They felt that some types of jobs will be reduced. They also noted that vendors may face job losses because the efficiencies gained through AI could mean less demand for certain types of vendors. At the same time, the participants pointed out that AI could create demand for new types of positions such as prompt engineers. It also has the potential to spare employees from performing rote, repetitive tasks, freeing them up to do more creative and innovative work.

Given generative AI’s effect on employment opportunities, all the roundtable participants emphasized the importance of updating professional education in their sectors. Both legal and medical training will have to evolve to meet both the new opportunities and challenges related to AI tools.

EmergingTech Economic Research Network

This recent roundtable was part of a new initiative launched by the SF Fed and the Federal Reserve System to understand the impact of nascent technologies in shaping the economy of the future: the EmergingTech Economic Research Network (EERN).

We have designed EERN to be an open-source, easily-accessible place where academics, researchers, and technologists can access the latest research and insights about the impact of emerging technologies on the economy.

We will continue to engage business and community leaders in our district about the impact of generative AI and other nascent technologies. The insights these conversations provide are crucial as we work to advance the nation’s monetary, financial, and payment systems to support a strong economy for all Americans.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the management of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco or of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.