Health system execs eyeing AI investments, but lack vendor knowledge

Nearly a quarter of health system decision-makers are looking to invest in artificial and robotic process automation in the next two years, but more than half were unable to name an AI or RPA vendor.
By Nathan Eddy
11:49 AM
Health system execs eyeing AI investments, but lack vendor knowledge

Adoption and investment in artificial intelligence and robotic process automation is still in its early growth stage in the healthcare industry, with just half of hospital leaders familiar with the technologies.

WHY IT MATTERS
These were among the results of a survey of 115 executives at hospital systems and independent hospitals in the United States, conducted by healthcare digitization vendor Olive and market research firm Sage Growth Partners.

The study also found that nearly a quarter (23 percent) of health system executives are looking to invest in the two technologies today, and half said they plan to do so within the next two years.

The top reasons cited for deploying AI technology included improving efficiency and reducing costs, improving the quality of care and improving patient satisfaction and engagement.

While interest in AI and RPA technology is growing, the survey results also indicated that there is a lack of general knowledge as to where to procure the solutions or what vendors offer them, with more than half of survey respondents unable to name an AI or RPA vendor or solution.

The automation of high-volume repetitive tasks like supply chain management, revenue cycle management and finance and human resources were seen by survey respondents as key areas where AI could be of service, though purchasing approaches varied widely.

The survey found 43 percent of respondents would hand over the building delivery, monitorization and support of automation technology to a single firm, while other respondents favored a mix of self-selection, use of consultants, and in-house building of solutions.

Automating some processes has the potential to help deliver diagnoses more quickly, increasing the chance of better outcomes for patients while reducing clinicians' workloads.

THE LARGER TREND
Natural language processing-powered software has helped Austin Regional Medical Clinic, a multispecialty medical group serving central Texas gain efficiencies, leading to more time with patients, fewer EHR burnout symptoms and the ability to see more patients in a day.

In June, Change Healthcare rolled out AI technology that can help health systems optimize submissions and better predict potential issues with claims, giving recommendations to help mitigate denials before they're submitted.

Meanwhile, a July report from Frost & Sullivan predicts that as many as 45% of ORs will be integrated with intelligent technologies within the next four years to improve the precision and predictability of surgical services.

ON THE RECORD
"With AI becoming more mainstream and offering a clearer path to value, hospitals no longer need to build out a massive technological infrastructure before benefiting from the efficiencies that it can create," Olive’s chief marketing officer Rebecca Hellmann said in a statement. "One in every three dollars is spent on administrative expenses. Imagine what could be done if more resources were available to focus on patient care."

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.
Email the writer: nathaneddy@gmail.com
Twitter: @dropdeaded209