Healthcare leaders worldwide counting on AI to close ‘critical gaps’ in patient care

Healthcare leaders from points around the globe are pretty much “all in” on generative AI. A full 85% of 2,800 surveyed across 14 countries say they’re investing in the technology now or planning to do so within three years.

That’s one finding from Philips’s Future Health Index report for 2024. The Amsterdam-based health-tech giant commissioned the market research firm GemSeek to survey and interview a worldwide sampling of healthcare leaders. The researchers drew responses from around 200 participants each in Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The resulting Philips report, released June 18, devotes a section to data and AI.

“Healthcare organizations have a wealth of data but a poverty of insights,” the authors comment. If not bridged, they suggest, this “insights gap” threatens to thwart efforts to provide evidence-based care equal to the present moment in healthcare history.

Some of the report’s key takeaways are contained in the following five passages.

1. Staff lose precious time pulling patient data together.

Effective patient care relies on accurate and timely access to data, but healthcare professionals often face significant challenges in accessing disparate data and then integrating it into a cohesive patient story.

The vast majority of healthcare leaders (94%) say their organization experiences data integration challenges that impact its ability to provide timely, high-quality care. As a result, almost 4 in 10 healthcare leaders (38%) say that staff lose precious time pulling patient data together, leaving less time to care for patients.

They also see increased operational costs due to data inefficiencies and limited coordination between care providers or departments, as well as unnecessary repeat scans and increased risk of errors.

2. Healthcare leaders see potential to improve patient care through data.

Healthcare leaders see a wide range of opportunities to improve patient care by bringing data from disparate sources together in a meaningful way. For example, they believe data-driven insights could help optimize treatment plans and care pathways (43%), identify evidence-based practices (37%), and reduce waiting lists for diagnostic and elective procedures (36%).

But to deliver on these possibilities, healthcare leaders recognize they first need to get the foundations right. When asked what needs to change in how healthcare data is handled, they highlight the importance of improved accuracy of patient data (40%), interoperability among different platforms and healthcare settings (39%), and data security and privacy (38%).

All these items represent long-standing challenges in healthcare that must be effectively addressed to harness the full potential of data-driven insights for better patient care. Echoing last year’s Future Health Index findings, this is where many healthcare leaders see an important role for external partnerships.

3. Healthcare leaders are implementing AI from the hospital to the home.

This year’s Future Health Index findings show how healthcare leaders have already implemented AI for clinical decision support across different areas of the hospital, with in-hospital patient monitoring, medication management, treatment planning, radiology and preventative care leading the pack.

As healthcare leaders increasingly focus on expanding care beyond hospital walls, implementing AI in remote patient monitoring is an area of focus for the next three years.

4. Generative AI adoption in healthcare set to rise within the next three years.

Generative AI has caught the attention of healthcare leaders in the past year, since its rapid emergence into the public domain. They recognize the benefits that generative AI could bring to patient care by unlocking new efficiencies and insights from patient data.

Our research shows that 85% of healthcare leaders across the surveyed countries are already investing (29%) or plan to invest (56%) in generative AI within the next three years. However:

There are significant cross-country differences in how quickly healthcare leaders plan to invest in generative AI, which are consistent with overall differences in speed of adoption of AI for clinical decision support.

5. Responsible use of AI requires appropriate safeguards.

While there is widespread excitement about the possibilities of AI in healthcare, there is also a shared recognition that it needs to be implemented in a responsible way to avoid unintended consequences.

Almost 9 in 10 healthcare leaders (87%) are concerned about the possibility of data bias in AI applications widening existing disparities in health outcomes. To address this risk, healthcare leaders say it is important to make AI more transparent and interpretable for healthcare professionals and offer continuous training and education in AI.

Another strategy that healthcare leaders pointed to is policies for the ethical use of data and AI. This can only be achieved through cross-sector collaboration and coalition-building.

Philips has posted the report in full for free.


Dave Pearson

Dave P. has worked in journalism, marketing and public relations for more than 30 years, frequently concentrating on hospitals, healthcare technology and Catholic communications. He has also specialized in fundraising communications, ghostwriting for CEOs of local, national and global charities, nonprofits and foundations.

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