Healthcare leaders welcome AI, survey finds

October 14, 2019

Survey finds big jump in healthcare leaders who say they have a plan for and have integrated AI into their organizations

Healthcare leaders are showing confidence and investment in artificial intelligence (AI) to improve care, according to the second OptumIQ Annual Survey on AI in Healthcare.

The findings showed a radical jump from last year’s survey in respondents (88 percent) who say their organizations or businesses have a strategy in place and have implemented AI into their care. Respondents also said their organizations plan to invest an average of $39.7 million over the next five years into the technology. That’s a $7.3 million increase from last year’s respondents’ estimates.

“These findings validate that AI is vital to holistically transform health care,” says Dan Schumacher, president and chief operating officer of Optum, a health services business. “It’s encouraging to see executives’ growing trust in, and adoption of, AI to make data more actionable in making the health system work better for everyone. Working together, I am confident we can improve the quality, experiences and reduce the total cost of health care in meaningful, sustainable ways.”

The online survey polled 500 senior healthcare industry executives between August 19 and September 13.

Half of the respondents said their organization is investing first using the technology to automate business processes, while 36 percent said they will invest in personalizing clinical care recommendations, and another 36 percent said they would also invest in accelerating research for new therapeutics or clinical discoveries.

The executives said these five areas are where they see AI having the most potential outside of the clinical environment:

  • Automating prior authorizations (51 percent)

  • Providing individuals with relevant health action using personalized communications (47 percent)

  • Managing EHRs (45 percent)

  • Detecting fraud, waste, or abuse in reimbursement (43 percent)

  • Selecting appropriate care settings (38 percent)

More than half of the respondents (52 percent) are expecting AI to create more work opportunities while 87 percent agreed that hiring candidates who have experience working with the technology is a priority for their organizations.

As for training those already employed by their organization, 89 percent said that they are not being trained quickly enough to keep up with the advances in AI technology and 91 percent estimated that between 10 and 50 percent of new roles in their organizations will require work experience with AI. There’s an equal split of respondents between the solutions of establishing partnerships, creating training programs, working with consulting firms, and postponing projects.

“In order to transform and modernize the U.S. health system through the power of AI, it is critical that organizations invest in developing talent throughout the enterprise to solve health care’s most complex challenges,” says Steve Griffiths, PhD, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Optum Enterprise Analytics.

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