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90% of Hospitals Have Artificial Intelligence Strategies in Place

March 11, 2021 at 12:00:00 AM

Healthcare artificial intelligence awareness and adoption has increased significantly in the past year, with familiarity rising among hospital executives.


Health IT Analytics

90% of Hospitals Have Artificial Intelligence Strategies in Place


Jessica Kent

Nine in ten hospitals now have an artificial intelligence strategy in place, and 75 percent of healthcare executives believe AI initiatives are more critical now because of the pandemic, according to a report from Sage Growth Partners.

These results show a significant increase from 2019, when 47 percent had no AI or automation plan in place.

Of the 90 percent of hospitals with an AI strategy, the report showed that 41 percent of organizations are still in the planning stage, while 25 percent are in the early implementation stage.

Additionally, the report noted that from 2019 to 2020, executive familiarity with automation grew from 50 percent to 66 percent and deployment of automation solutions increased from 23 percent to 34 percent.

Given that most healthcare executives have an AI and automation strategies in place, researchers expect that the use of this technology will grow significantly in the next two years.

“It's incredibly promising to see the continued and growing adoption of AI within healthcare,” said Sean Lane, CEO of Olive.

“AI solutions are essential pieces of infrastructure at hospitals and health systems, and we have just begun to scratch the surface. There are so many more connections to make using AI– so many more lights to shine on all of the broken healthcare processes that stand between providers and patient care.”

The pandemic has also pushed hospital executives to increasingly rely on AI and automation. Seventy-six percent of respondents said automation has elevated in importance because cutting wasteful spending will help them recuperate and grow faster.

These findings echo those of a November 2020 survey, which showed that 56 percent of healthcare executives said that their response to COVID-19 has caused them to accelerate or expand their AI implementation strategies. The same survey found that 51 percent believe they’ll achieve a return on AI investments faster because of their pandemic response.

In the report from Sage Growth Partners, most respondents who have implemented automation solutions pointed out that the technology is live in only a few areas of their organization.

Among those with existing automation, 59 percent currently use it for five or fewer use cases. Executives also named revenue cycle management, supply chain, and clinical administration as the areas that would benefit most from automation.

Additionally, the executives stated that several barriers still exist to scaling AI and automation. Respondents noted that slow time to implement, lower ROI than expected, and staff constraints are the top challenges to implementation.

Executives also named key criteria for AI and automation success, including selecting the right partner.

“Given that automation is increasingly necessary but difficult to implement and scale, not all organizations will succeed. As several executives noted when interviewed, poorly executed automation can even set the organization back and make driving organizational buy-in for future automation projects more difficult. That makes having the right partner all the more important,” researchers stated.

According to respondents, the top criteria for selecting an automation partner are security and compliance, proven ROI, healthcare expertise, and reliable performance. Healthcare executives also largely prefer a healthcare-focused solution over one spread across multiple industries, with 66 percent of respondents saying they trust a healthcare-focused solution more.

The results demonstrate the industry’s increased focus and adoption of AI, while also highlighting the fact that healthcare still has a ways to go with implementation.

“The pandemic’s impact on financials and staff has heightened the need to invest in efficient and scalable processes, contributing to the burgeoning awareness and usage of AI and automation and moving it from a value-added option to a must-have capability,” the report concluded.

“However, automation has yet to move beyond the pilot stage for most healthcare organizations today, and some are stumbling as they launch projects or expand to other areas. The risk of failure makes selecting the right AI and automation partner all the more critical. Executives increasingly value partners that specialize in healthcare, can achieve ROI, and can serve multiple areas throughout the enterprise as they expand.”

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