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Health leaders ramp up AI investments as confidence in the technology grows

Trust in artificial intelligence technology is rising sharply across healthcare, with many leaders predicting tangible cost savings in under three years.

That’s boosting investment in AI systems, according to a new Optum survey of 500 U.S. health industry leaders from hospitals, health plans, life sciences and employers, which also found 22 percent of respondents are in the late stages of AI strategy implementation.

The study found revealed a nearly 90 percent increase in the number of respondents who said their organizations have a strategy in place and have implemented AI, with an average investment of just under $40 million over the next five years.

Administrative process improvements top the list of investment priorities, led by technologies to help automate business processes like administrative tasks or customer service.

Artificial intelligence is also expected to boost job growth and expand employment opportunities, according to survey respondents, although training in AI is seen as a stumbling block – nearly nine in 10 respondents said AI training is not happening fast enough.

Overall, 62 percent of respondents said they have an AI strategy already in place – nearly double the figure from last year’s survey – and there was an overall high level of trust in AI for both clinical and administrative tasks.

Popular areas of investment for survey respondents included AI to help accelerate research for new therapeutic or clinical discoveries, as well as using the technology to personalize clinical care recommendations like drug therapies.

The survey results certainly correspond with real-world trends among major health players in the AI space: Last week Allscripts and Northwell Health announced a partnership to co-develop an AI-powered, cloud-hosted and voice-enabled electronic health record platform.

Last month, Emory Healthcare partnered with Vital on new AI-powered ED technology where the aim is to help hospital EDs triage patients, and 3M Health Information Systems and M*Modal recently unveiled a clinical documentation improvement tool that uses AI to boost speed and efficiency for clinicians and coders.

The FDA also cleared GE Healthcare’s AI platform for X-ray scans last month; the Critical Care Suite platform was developed in partnership with UC San Francisco and powered by GE’s Edison AI technology, and can help radiologists prioritize cases involving collapsed lungs.

“These findings validate that AI is vital to holistically transform health care,” said Dan Schumacher, president and chief operating officer of Optum, in a statement. “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.”

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.
Email the writer: [email protected]
Twitter: @dropdeaded209

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