How can automation and generative AI address critical care gaps?

Healthcare leaders from around the world envision automation and AI bridging critical gaps that hinder their institutions' ability to deliver timely, high-quality care to everyone, according to the ninth annual Future Health Index 2024 report.

The new report commissioned by Philips comes from a survey of nearly 3,000 healthcare leaders, including healthcare informatics leaders, from 14 countries and interviews conducted up to March 2024. The final report was released on 18 June at HLTH Europe in Amsterdam, examining three critical gaps in healthcare and breaking out attitudes and trends in current and planned implementation of automation and AI.

Automation, AI, generative AI

Future Health Index 2024 reveals, for example, that healthcare leaders and healthcare professionals aren't quite seeing eye-to-eye, yet, on automation and/or AI as the solution to the problems health systems face.

A vast majority of healthcare leaders (92%) think automation is critical for addressing staff shortages in healthcare. That is automating repetitive tasks and processes, the report stated. Yet almost two-thirds (65%) of healthcare leaders also said that healthcare professionals are skeptical about the use of automation in healthcare. An even higher number of radiology leaders (77%) have that concern, the report pointed out.

On current and planned implementation of AI for clinical decision support in radiology specifically, the survey showed 29% checking not implemented or don't know, with 36% reporting AI already implemented, and 35% planning to implement AI in the next three years.

Leading AI implementation overall, however, 43% of respondents said they have implemented AI for in-hospital patient monitoring, and leaders cited remote patient monitoring as an area of focus for the next three years as more healthcare services move beyond hospital walls. Philips added that remote patient monitoring, radiology, and clinical command centers were the leading areas earmarked for AI implementation in the next three years.

Attitudes toward generative AI technology showed that 85% of healthcare leaders across the surveyed countries are already investing or plan to invest in generative AI technologies within the next three years, although concerns remain about the possibility of data bias. Making AI more transparent and interpretable ranked highest among strategies for mitigating risk of data bias in AI applications for healthcare.

Staffing burdens

The 2024 report also provides industry feedback about staffing burdens and shows steps healthcare leaders are taking.

"The staffing gap is the most concerning," said Dr. Chiara Bucciarelli-Ducci, PhD, cardiologist and CEO of the Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance (SCMR) in London with the release of the report.

More than half of healthcare leaders (55%) are concerned about an increased likelihood of staff leaving, and 77% report care delays due to staff shortages. A strong majority (92%) believe automating repetitive tasks is crucial for addressing staff shortages and that automation will save time by reducing administrative tasks; 89% said it will allow healthcare professionals to perform at their highest skill level.

Trends in automation for relieving healthcare administrative burdens*
More than 50% have implemented automation for: %
Billing processes 55%
Appointment scheduling 59%
Patient check-in 54%
Clinical data entry 53%
Less than 50% have implemented automation for: %
Workflow prioritization 36%
Equipment maintenance and monitoring 42%
Clinical documentation and notetaking 49%
Medication management 47%
* Workflow prioritization lagged further behind all categories for those who planned to automate within the next three years or had not implemented or didn't know.
(Source: Future Health Index 2024 report)

The Future Health Index 2024 report once again highlighted the role of virtual care as one of three ways to relieve widespread staffing shortages, in addition to automation and remote patient monitoring. Over two-fifths (41%) of healthcare informatics leaders surveyed said virtual care eased staff shortages by creating new career opportunities for healthcare professionals to work remotely and improved patient-to-staff ratios.

Additionally, almost one in three healthcare leaders worldwide (32%) reported that virtual care is enabling them to expand specialist care to underserved communities in the face of staff shortages. This is especially the case in China (42%), India (41%), and the U.S. (40%), where patients may have to travel long distances to access specialist care, according to the report.

3 critical gaps

Ultimately, Philips' 2024 report examines three critical gaps affecting healthcare delivery:

  1. The staffing gap: lack of qualified professionals, shortages, strain
  2. The insights gap: wealth of data but a poverty of insight
  3. The sustainability gap: financial challenges and long-term sustainability

Some 96% of survey respondents said their organization is experiencing financial challenges, with 81% saying the challenges are having a direct effect on patient care, and 59% reporting they are unable to invest in new medical technology as a result of their financial challenges. As a result, more than half (55%) reported they were taking steps to improve operational efficiencies and reduce costs.

Moreover, 94% reported that their organization experienced at least one data integration challenge that affected the ability to provide timely, high-quality care. The problems resulted in unnecessary repeat tests and scans, limited coordination between care providers and departments, and trading off time with patients for time spent accessing and integrating results.

“We need to start to bring the healthcare professionals into the conversation," stated Bucciarelli-Ducci. "We know the use of AI is decided at the C-suite level, but that's not where the implementation happens. So we really need to bring the implementers, which are the nurses, technicians, the doctors, the surgeons, to the table so that they actually start embracing AI. Because if AI is imposed on them, that's where we face resistance to change.”

The full Future Health Index 2024 global report can be found on Philips' website, here.

Page 1 of 110
Next Page