Despite AI ethical concerns, IoT and smart sensor investments on rise new report finds

Most healthcare execs are planning to buy AI and IoT technology, but they'll need other capabilities and competencies to ensure they're safely deployed.
By Mike Miliard
09:19 AM
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AI ethical concerns

It won't surprise you to know that artificial intelligence and the internet-of-things are suddenly big business. But as hospitals and health systems rush to incorporate these new technologies, many don't realize that they also need to be honing other capabilities and competencies – and sometimes buying complementary technologies – to ensure AI and IoT are well-deployed.

Accenture's new report, Digital Health Technology Vision 2018 finds that more than three-quarters of healthcare decision-makers surveyed say they're planning to invest in IoT and smart sensors in 2018. And more than half said they're shopping around for AI systems. The vast majority (86 percent) said they're looking for technology to help them harness data to drive automated decision-making.

At the same time, many are beginning to realize that the fundamental changes represented by AI demand more than just buying and installing a particular piece of software. More than 80 percent of execs said they're not ready for "societal and liability issues that will require them to explain their AI-based actions and decisions," according to the report.

Moreover, about three-quarters say they've begun developing internal ethical standards to help  ensure that their AI systems work optimally for patients and staff, and, in Accenture's words, "act responsibly."

As Kaveh Safavi, MD, head of Accenture’s global health practice, explained, "intelligent technologies such as AI are enabling health organizations to evolve at speed, collaborate with other entities and create deeper, more meaningful relationships with patients across various care settings.”

"As this paradigm-shifting technology evolves – making business more dynamic than ever before – organizations will remain responsible for demonstrating data stewardship and designing systems with trust and transparency to bolster the societal benefits of these technologies," he added.

For example, the new report shows hospitals now facing a novel risk from AI and IoT that could be every bit as potentially problematic as the ongoing cybersecurity challenges: vulnerability to inaccurate or biased machine-generated data that generates skewed results.

More than 85 percent of healthcare execs surveyed said they don't yet have capabilities in place to to verify data sources across their most critical systems, according to the study, and nearly 25 percent said that they have been the target of "adversarial AI behaviors, like falsified location data or bot fraud."

Among the other leading-edge technologies examined in the new Accenture Technology Vision 2018 report: extended reality, blockchain and edge computing

More than 82 percent of healthcare executives said that extended reality (which comprised both virtual and augmented reality tech) could help improve access and patient experience, almost half of providers planning investments in AVR in 2018.

Even more (91 percent) said blockchain and smart contracts will be critical tools over the next three years, with 88 percent saying the same about microservices.

And some 82 percent of healthcare execs are looking closely edge architecture, in hopes it will speed the maturity of "hyperconnected health environments," with 85 percent) saying the next few years will prove it to be crucial in gathering real-time insights from huge volumes of data.

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com