The healthcare industry is aggressively adopting intelligent technologies, such as the internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI), but many health organizations need new capabilities to ensure that technology acts with responsibility and transparency as businesses evolve, according to a new Accenture report.
According to Accenture’s Digital Health Technology Vision 2018 report, more than three-fourths (77 percent) of the 100 health executives surveyed said they expect to invest in IoT and smart sensors this year — the highest among the 20 industries included in the broader Accenture Technology Vision research on which the health industry report was based. In addition, more than half (53 percent) of the health executives expect to invest in AI systems, with four-fifths (86 percent) of the executives saying that their organizations use data to drive automated decision-making at an unprecedented scale.
And, a majority of health executives (85 percent) surveyed agree that every human will be directly impacted on a daily basis by an AI-based decision within the next three years, and most (80 percent) agree that within the next two years, AI will work next to humans in their organization, as a coworker, collaborator and trusted advisor.
At the same time, healthcare executives using technology responsibly and in a transparent manner is critical. Ninety-two percent of health executives believe that ensuring the security of consumer data is important or very important to gain customers’ trust.
The study identified a range of issues related to the aggressive adoption of AI and the greater role it plays in healthcare decision-making, and the report also counsels the need for organizations to instill trust and transparency into the design of their technology systems.
Eighty percent of surveyed health executives believe AI is advancing faster than their organization’s pace of adoption. More concerning, 81 percent of health executives agree that organizations are not prepared to face the societal and liability issues that will require them to explain their AI-based actions and decisions, should issues arise, according to the Accenture survey. As a result, 73 percent said they plan to develop internal ethical standards for AI to ensure that their systems act responsibly.
In addition, health organizations also face a new kind of vulnerability: inaccurate, manipulated and biased data that leads to corrupted insights and skewed results. More than five-sixths (86 percent) of health executives have not yet invested in capabilities to verify data sources across their most critical systems. In addition, one-fourth (24 percent) of the executives said that they have been the target of adversarial AI behaviors, like falsified location data or bot fraud.
The Accenture report also predicts key trends likely to disrupt business over the next three years, including virtual/augmented reality, blockchain and edge computing. Among the findings from healthcare executives about these technologies:
- More than four in five (82 percent) of the executives said that extended reality—comprising virtual- and augmented-reality technologies—removes the hurdle of distance in access to people, information and experience, with nearly half (48 percent) of health providers and one-sixth (16 percent) of health payers planning to invest in these technologies in the next year.
- Nine-tenths (91 percent) of health executives believe that blockchain and smart contracts are critical to enabling a frictionless business over the next three years, and approximately the same number (88 percent) believe that microservices will be crucial for scaling and integrating ecosystem partnerships.
- Four-fifths (82 percent) of health executives believe that “edge” architecture will speed the maturity of hyperconnected health environments, and slightly more (85 percent) believe that generating real-time insights from the volumes of data expected in the future will require computing “at the edge,” where data is generated. Yet the vast majority (86 percent) of health executives believe that they’ll need to balance cloud and edge computing to maximize technology infrastructure agility and enable intelligence everywhere throughout their organization.
“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,” Kaveh Safavi, M.D., head of Accenture’s global health practice, said in a statement. “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.”