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94% of Healthcare Execs Say AI, Blockchain Have Advanced Innovation

By Jessica Kent

- Ninety-four percent of healthcare executives report that artificial intelligence, blockchain, and other emerging technologies have accelerated the pace of innovation over the past three years, according to an Accenture report.

However, the report also found that while technology investments have progressed, healthcare organizations still need to do more to meet rising consumer and employee expectations.

The healthcare industry has largely come to recognize that digital technologies must be a core part of everyday processes, with organizations increasingly investing in social, mobile, analytics, and cloud technologies. Eighty percent of healthcare executives agreed that these tools have moved beyond adoption silos to become an integral part of the technology foundation of their organizations.

But in order to stand out and deliver better care in the future, leaders have to look toward what’s next. The report found that 77 percent of executives believe their employees are currently more digitally mature than their organization, resulting in workers who are waiting for the industry to catch up to digital innovation.  

“Like other aspects of their daily lives, consumers increasingly expect technology to enable health organizations to meet them when, how and where they want care,” said Kaveh Safavi, MD, JD, senior managing director of Accenture’s health practice.

READ MORE: Top 12 Artificial Intelligence Innovations Disrupting Healthcare by 2020

“Despite considerable effort to-date, there remains a long journey ahead to deliver the rich, individualized, experience-based relationships that modern patients demand. But one thing is clear – it is no longer a matter of if these needs will be met, but when. Investing in emerging technologies will be crucial to developing new pathways into the future.”

The report said that a combination of innovative technologies, including artificial intelligence, blockchain, and precision medicine, will ultimately become healthcare’s digital foundation.

Eighty-nine percent of healthcare executives said they are currently experimenting with one or more of these tools, and 68 percent said they believe that a combination of these technologies will have a transformational impact on their organization over the next three years.

When asked which technology would have the greatest impact on their organization over the next three years, 41 percent of executives ranked AI as number one.

“Healthcare organizations are using the full collection of AI technologies to change how we interact with doctors,” the report said. “AI will augment diagnoses—it can already identify diseases based on facial features,4 retina scans, X-rays and speech—and it can even help patients to self-diagnose before they walk through the doors of the doctor’s office.”

READ MORE: Finding a Happy Home for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

Blockchain and other distributed ledger technology (DLT) is also expected to have a significant impact on the healthcare industry, particularly on healthcare payments and identity management.   

“Healthcare enterprises can reduce waste, save costs and increase quality of care by using DLT to create a trusted set of data so that people can act on the information rather than having to go back to the source of truth to verify its authenticity,” the report said.

These emerging technologies will have a major effect on the way employees do their jobs. Healthcare workers are currently using technology to enhance their job performance, but as organizations continue to innovate, leaders will need to create new jobs that are centered around using advanced digital tools.

Additionally, leaders will need to invest in training employees for the next generation of digital transformation in healthcare.

Many executives believe that emerging technology will soon play a critical role in the day-to-day roles for all workers in an organization. Sixty-eight percent of executives believe that within the next three years, every employee in their organization will have access to a team of bots to accomplish their work.

READ MORE: How Artificial Intelligence is Redefining Consumer Health Experiences

“The healthcare industry is among the most labor-dependent. Technology offers a new opportunity to lift the weight of processes and allow the workforce to operate at a new level of efficiency. The possibilities in healthcare are vast,” the report said.

“Imagine AI helping to scan structured data, such as medical claims; semi-structured data; and unstructured data (e.g. medical records, email) in seconds to perform a clinical review which would otherwise require a human to read hundreds to thousands of pages.”

Going forward, healthcare entities will have to increasingly adopt and use emerging digital technologies in order to meet the needs of consumers and employees.

“The imperative has become stronger for healthcare organizations to adopt technologies that create a digital foundation for the future,” the report concluded. “The most successful healthcare organizations will be those that recognize change is in motion.”

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