It’s no longer a question of if, but how fast
Estimated savings over the next 10 years in prevention of childhood obesity, diagnosis of dementia and diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer
While continual advances in medicine have paved the way for more effective treatments than ever before, increasing pressure on healthcare systems is reinforcing the need for improved efficiencies. Expenses and labour issues are taking their toll on healthcare quality and accessibility worldwide. The increasing prevalence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the sector is poised to disrupt healthcare systems on a global scale.
‘’AI is a collective term for computer systems that can sense their environment, think, learn, and take action in response to what they’re sensing and their objectives. Forms of AI in use today include digital assistants, chatbots and machine learning amongst others.’’
Technology is already making a significant impact on Healthcare. With the explosion of mobile connectivity, apps and social media, people are taking more of an interest than ever in monitoring and being proactive about their health. The vast amounts of data uploaded via these channels have implications for remote patient monitoring and health records, by building a database for monitoring and ultimately forecasting a patient’s health.
AI is poised to be adopted as an aid in data-based diagnostics, by using the patient’s baseline history as a benchmark from which to flag deviations as indicators of potential health issues. The more data accumulated, the more the AI will learn and improve, ultimately enhancing accuracy and paving the way for autonomous AI data-based diagnostics.
PwC’s June 2017 study ‘Sherlock in Health: How artificial intelligence may improve quality and efficiency, whilst reducing healthcare costs in Europe’ shows clear benefits of AI in Healthcare. Cost savings, improved access to care and more efficient diagnoses and treatment ultimately lead to overall improved healthcare systems.
Further implementation of AI in Healthcare would require the adoption of stringent protection of privacy and sensitive health data protocols.
Medical professionals would need to support the potential of AI technology and undergo relevant training.
PwC’s recent report ‘What Doctor? Why AI and robotics will define New Health’ includes a survey of over 11,000 people across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (including 1,021 in Belgium). Results show that a significant portion of people are ready to accept new technologies for their healthcare needs.
Romain Seffer, Partner, PwC Belgium, elaborates: ‘’Willingness is a function of the stage of development of the respective healthcare systems. It’s high in Africa and lower in Western Europe, with Belgium at the high end on the acceptance scale. The degree of invasiveness of the procedure is also a factor: people are more likely to accept AI for diagnostic and small procedures than major incidents like heart surgery or childbirth.’’
Percentage of respondents willing/unwilling to engage with AI and robotics for their healthcare needs (by country)
Percentage of respondents willing/unwilling to engage with AI and robotics for minor vs. major surgery (by country)
Organisations in Belgium and beyond need to prepare for the AI revolution in Healthcare. According to Seffer, ‘’AI in Healthcare has arrived. We can’t predict how quickly it will evolve, but it’s here.’’ He points out that now is the time for organisations to review the potential impact of AI on their operations and to consider implementation procedures. PwC Belgium is prepared to work with clients through AI implementation, providing expertise in compliance and regulation, legal and HR management specific to AI in Healthcare.
Seffer feels that despite the technical and organisational implications of AI, the human factor should not be forgotten: ‘’The ultimate goal of implementing AI in Healthcare shouldn’t be for cost savings, but to deliver faster, more effective and cost-efficient healthcare services to patients in need.’’
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