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Half of healthcare leaders say artificial intelligence will yield positive return on investment in 3 years

Respondents to the survey also expect to invest more as potential use and adoption of the technology continues to climb.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

The use of artificial intelligence in healthcare is on the rise, with an 88% increase in those whose organizations have implemented AI as compared to 2018, an Optum survey shows.

But the standout finding is that the vast majority of these leaders -- 90% -- have expressed confidence they'll see a positive return on investment in AI sooner than previously expected.

In fact, about half of the survey's respondents said they'll see ROI within three years or less. They also expect to invest more, representing an average industry net increase of $7.3 million compared to last year.

WHAT'S THE IMPACT

AI initiatives are expected to streamline work and create more job opportunities, which is creating greater interest in investing in the technology. Sixty-two percent of respondents said they have an AI strategy in place; that's up from 33% in 2018. Twenty-two percent report being in the late stages of AI implementation.

About 55% of hospitals and 52% of health plans expect to see a positive return within a three-year window, but 38% of life sciences executives expect it will take longer -- in excess of five years.

Views on AI are becoming more and more positive as time goes on, with clinical and administrative tasks cited as areas that could benefit from its implementation. More administrative applications than clinical applications are being considered -- at 62% and 38%, respectively. Four out of five of the top-ranked applications were administrative in nature.

More than half, 55%, of respondents said they'll invest first in automating business processes, while about 36% will invest in personalizing clinical care recommendations such as drug therapies. Thirty-six percent also plan to invest in accelerating research for new therapeutic or clinical discoveries.

A full 87% agree that hiring candidates with experience in AI technology is a priority, while 89% agree employees are not getting trained quickly enough to keep up with AI growth. Ninety-one percent estimate that 10 to 50% of new roles will require AI experience.

THE LARGER TREND

Globally, artificial intelligence in healthcare is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 43.5 percent from 2018 to reach $27.6 billion by 2025, ResearchandMarkets.com found in March.

The high growth of the artificial intelligence market in healthcare is attributed to factors such as rising funding in AI, the growing demand of precision medicine, effective cost reduction in healthcare expenditure, and accurate and early diagnosis of chronic diseases and disorders.

End user reluctance in adopting AI technologies, lack of trust and potential risks associated with AI in healthcare, are all restricting the growth of this market to a certain extent.

Twitter: @JELagasse

Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com