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Deloitte Survey: The Impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on Health Care

New data looks at AI investments, innovations and concerns within the health care ecosystem

While the pandemic has put a spotlight on the need for digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), health care organizations were already experiencing some of their benefits prior to the crisis. “Deloitte’s 2020 State of AI in the Enterprise Study, 3rd Edition” by the Deloitte AI Institute and Center for Technology, Media and Telecommunications uncovered how organizations are adopting, benefiting from, and managing AI technologies by industry, including health care. While the “State of AI in the Enterprise” survey was conducted before COVID-19 significantly impacted the U.S., its findings are ever more relevant as health care companies look to reduce costs, increase product development and better engage with consumers in the “Age of With,” a world where humans work alongside machines to enable greater outcomes. The “Smart use of artificial intelligence in health care” report, launched today, summarizes key findings from that survey, and offers recommendations for how health care enterprises can gain immediate returns on investment and experience a competitive advantage over the longer term.

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Investing in intelligence

Surveyed leaders agreed that health care organizations are investing, but the investments vary widely. However, most of the surveyed leaders believe that the actual payback period for their organization’s AI investments is in line with their expectations.

  • Seventy-five percent of large organizations (annual revenue of more than $10 billion) invested more than $50 million in AI projects/technologies.
  • Approximately 95% of mid-sized organizations (annual revenue of $5 billion to $10 billion) invested less than $50 million.
  • Seventy-three percent of all the organizations expect to increase their funding in 2020.

Efficiency first

AI has the potential to create new efficiencies in administrative processes and provide a precise and faster diagnosis and treatment plan for each patient, resulting in reduced length of stay, fewer subsequent readmissions, and reduced costs. When asked about the outcomes organizations are trying to achieve through AI, the top responses were:

  • Making processes more efficient (34%)
  • Enhancing existing products and services (27%)
  • Lowering costs (26%)

Rating the risks

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Survey respondents pointed to poor-quality data, siloed data systems, high initial costs of AI solutions with low return on investment, and integrating AI into legacy systems as key concerns. The top worries were:

  • Cost of the technologies (36%)
  • Integrating AI into the organization (30%)
  • Implementation issues, including AI risks and data issues (28%)
  • When asked about ethical risks, respondents were most worried about safety concerns around AI-powered systems (28%)

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Key quote

“Health care organizations willing to lean into AI adoption stand to gain many benefits, such as more cost efficiencies, faster speed to market and improved productivity. However, those positive outcomes have to balance the risks any new technology might introduce into their workflow. By identifying and managing these specific risks early, health care companies can enable faster and more consistent adoption of AI.”

Dan Ressler, principal and U.S. advisory life sciences leader, Deloitte Risk and Financial Advisory, Deloitte & Touche LLP

Moving AI forward

With investment in AI increasing, health systems and health plans should carefully plan so AI innovations complement their overall positioning and strategy. A few recommendations include:

  • Invest in a robust security and data governance strategy to manage AI’s unique risks.
  • Focus on investments that can ensure cost savings and prove ROI in order to then gain support for broader investments and bigger transformations.
  • Encourage stakeholders, including physicians, clinical staff, and administrative staff, to strive to be champions and promote an AI-augmented workforce.

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