Exploring the Impact of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare: Insights from the Latest Survey on Emerging Tech
A new survey reached out to healthcare leaders nationwide, gathering their perspectives on the most promising digital health technologies. Their feedback serves as an indicator of the technological directions health systems are likely to take in the upcoming years, especially regarding artificial intelligence in healthcare. This comprehensive survey carried out in the spring of 2023, was a joint venture with KLAS Research.
Survey Design and Participant Background
The new “Vision 2024” study, 80 leading executives and professionals from diverse US healthcare organizations participated. They were prompted with three pivotal questions about the future of AI in healthcare:
- Which emerging technology sparks the most excitement for the next couple of years?
- Over the past two years, which healthcare technology domain has witnessed the most advancement?
- Which healthcare challenge holds the most promise to be addressed through digital innovation, especially with AI solutions in healthcare?
AI in Healthcare Statistics
Breakdown of Respondents
- C-suite members: 58%
- Other high-ranking officials: 26%
- Managers and directors: 17%
- Large institutions (>500 beds): 76%
- Medium-sized (201–499 beds): 21%
- Smaller entities (1–200 beds): 1%
- Outpatient centers: 3%
AI's Growing Influence in Healthcare
Artificial intelligence in healthcare has been a recurring theme among health system executives. AI’s prominence in previous “Vision” surveys was evident, but in 2023, its recognition as the most groundbreaking emerging technology was unparalleled. It even surpassed virtual care in terms of progress.
Interestingly, enhancing patient care through technologies like decision support, continuity of care, and remote monitoring emerged as the primary challenge to address using artificial intelligence in healthcare. This shift in focus from patient access, which had been a top concern for two years, suggests a changing landscape, possibly influenced by the conclusion of the COVID-19 crisis. The emphasis now seems to be on enhancing patient outcomes and averting severe health incidents.
The Surge of AI's Popularity
The rapid rise of generative AI in healthcare in 2023 caught the public’s attention, making healthcare professionals increasingly keen on harnessing AI’s potential. This sentiment was echoed in the “Vision” survey, where AI surfaced as the most promising and rapidly advancing technology in healthcare leaders’ minds. While using AI in healthcare and use cases for data science solutions have mostly focused on clinical problems, health systems increasingly see AI in healthcare as a tool that can also improve operational, fiscal, and efficiency challenges. Many healthcare leaders believe these types of technologies could help their health systems become more efficient and effective, showcasing the benefits of AI in healthcare.
Technological Innovations in Healthcare
- Artificial intelligence: 63%
- Integration and data sharing: 6%
- Genomic and precision medicine: 5%
- Voice recognition systems: 4%
- Data-driven analytics: 4%
- Blockchain technology: 3%
- Patient monitoring from afar: 2%
- Automated robotic processes: 2%
- Others: 5%
AI in healthcare is also showing promise within other healthcare solutions, such as the electronic health record (EHR). Many healthcare executives mentioned Epic and their partnership with Microsoft to integrate generative artificial intelligence in healthcare into the EHR. The adoption of AI models has grown — in particular, the ability for Epic EHR customers to access up to 10 free modules can make AI models more accessible for them.
The adoption of AI and natural language processing (NLP) capabilities has also increased, with more solutions incorporating these types of functionalities — for example, in imaging software. While interest in AI and NLP has been high for a few years, the ultimate effectiveness will be measured more by the breadth of adoption and whether the technology drives health systems’ desired outcomes.
Other Technological Advancements
Artificial intelligence in healthcare was cited as the most improved technology by healthcare executives. Perceived improvement in AI is likely leading to greater adoption, which was reflected in the CCM’s report published in June 2023. In that research, most organizations shared they have adopted at least some AI technology. Despite AI’s move to the top of the rankings, executives continue to view Telemedicine and virtual care as technologies that have improved.
Healthcare leaders report these technologies have become easier to use, and health systems continue to iterate on their strategy for how best to utilize virtual care platforms. Many organizations are currently looking at how to expand their use cases and simplify their technology stack by reducing the number of vendors used and improving integration.
Technological Progress Snapshot
- Artificial intelligence (AI): 22%
- Virtual care platforms: 19%
- Data integration: 12%
- Remote patient monitoring: 10%
- EHR systems: 8%
- Patient involvement tools: 6%
- Data analytics: 5%
- Insurance-related tech: 4%
- Clinical decision aids: 5%
- Patient care management: 35%
- Data mobility solutions: 2%
- Mobile apps: 2%
- Voice recognition: 2%
- Others: 11%
Challenges and the Road Ahead
While patient access remains a significant challenge, this year’s survey highlighted other pressing issues. The top concern was enhancing patient care, which can be addressed using tools like remote monitoring and clinical decision support. Amid financial pressures, healthcare entities are seeking sustainable methods to deliver top-notch care with limited resources. Challenges related to patient outcomes, disease identification, and management are also on the radar.
Technological Solutions to Healthcare Challenges
- Patient care quality: 22%
- Patient accessibility: 20%
- Combatting provider fatigue: 8%
- Ensuring patient safety: 8%
- Staffing solutions: 7%
- Data integration: 7%
- Managing healthcare costs: 7%
- Engaging patients: 6%
- Disease management: 4%
- Data accuracy: 1%
The survey also highlighted the pressing issue of provider burnout, emphasizing the need for efficient documentation tools. Given the staffing crunch and escalating provider workloads, technology emerges as a crucial ally. Expected technological solutions range from patient self-scheduling tools to EHR optimization platforms.
Historical data from KLAS suggests tools like remote patient monitoring and voice recognition have occasionally alleviated provider burnout. However, the broader impact of these technologies remains to be seen. Addressing staffing shortages hinges on automation and effective data utilization for care orchestration.