Executives expect AI to transform healthcare within 3 years

By Nick Paul Taylor for Healthcare Dive

Dive Brief:

  • More than two-thirds of healthcare executives think artificial intelligence and other emerging digital technologies will extensively impact their organizations over the next three years.
  • The new Accenture survey suggests executives will expand quickly beyond the experiments that make up most of the engagement with new digital tools today.
  • Almost 90% of healthcare C-suites are trying AI and other emerging technologies, and high percentages also believe health IT can help them identify unmet consumer needs and understand customers, according to the survey.

Dive Insight:

In the survey of 221 healthcare executives, Accenture grouped AI, blockchain, extended reality and quantum computing under the term DARQ and sought the executives’ views on these emerging technologies.

Extended reality, an umbrella term for virtual, augmented and mixed realities, has made the biggest mark on healthcare to date, with 38% of respondents having already adopted it at one or more units. Accenture cites Cedars-Sinai’s use of extended reality to help patients learn breathing techniques that improve pain management as an example of how facilities are deploying the technology today.

None of the other DARQ technologies have been adopted by more than 38% of the executives, but that could change in the coming years. The survey found 68% of those surveyed expect DARQ to have an extensive or transformational effect on their organizations over the next three years.

More than 40% of executives expect AI to have the biggest impact over that timeframe. If that comes to pass, specialists such as Zebra Medical Vision and larger, more diversified technology firms including Google’s sister company Verily could be among the beneficiaries.

Accenture predicts AI will augment the diagnosis of disease. That expectation is underpinned by research into the use of AI to detect diseases from facial features, retina scans, imaging and other sources of healthcare data.

Beyond DARQ, the survey identifies 5G as among the more impactful emerging technologies. Believing 5G may enable everything from drone deliveries to faster video transmissions, 82% of the surveyed healthcare executives believe the cellular network will revolutionize their industry.

The survey also addresses the impact digital technologies have already had on healthcare. Almost all of the polled executives said emerging technologies have accelerated the pace of innovation at their organizations over the past three years. Four-fifths of the executives said social, mobile, analytics and cloud technologies have moved out of silos to become part of their organizations’ core technology.

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