Healthcare leaders remain positive on AI technology, but lack a defined strategy

As healthcare leaders face economic challenges, many C-suite execs believe AI could transform the industry but are struggling to create a definitive strategy to harness the technology.

The last few years have been financially challenging for the healthcare industry, with the pandemic, critical workforce shortages, inflation and other economic pressures creating significant pressure on budgets. Many healthcare businesses experienced a negative margin, but C-Suite leaders are overall positive about the future, thanks to the potential cost savings associated with progressive AI technologies.

Health system executives are excited about AI and the potential of automation to enhance and streamline financial and operational activities and strengthen administrative challenges and employee burnout. 

Healthcare leaders see significant opportunities for strengthening workflows, documentation, managing and interpreting data in the coming year. Furthermore, in the next few years, healthcare leaders have stated that they intend to plan more AI-powered measures around predictive analytics, decision support and industry insights. With rapidly declining costs to implement and train AI and machine learning models, new technology promises multiple productivity-positive tools at a small investment.

While the report from Bain and Company identifies that 75% of C-Suite leaders are excited about AI and believe the technology has reached a level capable of reshaping the industry, it also showed that only 6% of healthcare businesses had created a generative AI strategy. This number is expected to grow as more companies focus on new technologies and automation to support long-standing industry, financial and operational challenges. Some of the top healthcare priorities for AI applications include:- optimising and automating workflows, structuring and measuring patient data, remote patient monitoring and referral support.

While the benefits of new tech are clear, researchers warn that there are challenges ahead as healthcare businesses pursue ways to implement these advancing technologies. Cost and resource issues, combined with experience levels and regulatory and legal measures, represent the main barriers to implementing AI technology. Aside from these main challenges, many executives struggle to focus and prioritise the right technology due to the sheer pace of innovation.

There are several factors to consider as healthcare businesses continue to determine the best strategies for adopting AI.

Perform an initial test with low-risk strategies – When determining the most efficient strategy and building experience with the available technology, businesses can pilot and learn the best solution through low-risk, repeatable use cases.

Determine whether to purchase or build – Senior executives will need to consider how to invest in different options, depending on the technology available and the overall importance of the project.

Shift savings into high-value technology – As tech progresses and the value becomes evident, businesses that build savings and relevant experience and adopt emerging technologies will be in a stronger position to implement the next wave of tech solutions.

AI isn’t your strategy – it should reinforce your business strategy – Business leaders should ensure any AI solution strengthens and supports their core organisation goals.

Many healthcare leaders understand the potential AI offers to enhance productivity but are also concerned about the uncertainties around progressive and evolving tech. With constant progression comes opportunity, and leading businesses are recognising the value of this technology shift and implementing focused, low-risk projects with smaller returns on investment to grow the experience and confidence required to invest in a much larger scale solution.

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