RB6_12   This research addresses two salient questions about AI in healthcare: How to conceptualize AI diffusion in healthcare and how could we assess AI readiness of Illinois counties? I argue that AI is not a disruptive innovation; it is a competence-enhancing technology, for example, to manage time consuming administrative tasks in healthcare. Also, I use an index to assess AI readiness of Illinois counties. Data analysis shows that in nonmetro Illinois, Coles and Effingham counties are comparatively more prepared for AI than other counties.