Providers have hope, but not trust, for AI
Care providers have mixed feelings about the current state of artificial intelligence (AI) in the healthcare industry, according to a recent survey of more than 2000 clinicians conducted by GE HealthCare.
While most clinicians believe that AI has the potential to create a more efficient and effective future for the health system, only 42% of providers globally – and a mere 26% in the United States – believe that AI can be trusted in its current form.
Uncertainty over the readiness of AI for medical use
Clinicians are highly skeptical of the quality of data used to train AI algorithms, with only 33% of experienced providers saying they have trust in the data. A further 44 % believe that AI is vulnerable to built-in biases that could have a negative impact on patient care and outcomes.
Globally, 55% of clinicians don’t feel that AI is ready for medical use. Providers in the United States are among the least likely to feel confident about AI: just 29% of US-based clinicians surveyed think AI is ready for deployment compared to a whopping 66% of clinicians in China and 58% in Germany.
Part of the problem lies in the shaky foundations of the health IT ecosystem, the study revealed. Clinicians remain extremely frustrated about the lack of meaningful interoperability between systems that makes it harder to work collaboratively and coordinate care for patients.
Just under half of participants said technologies in their organizations don’t integrate seamlessly with one another. A similar number stated that this lack of interoperability means they don’t feel like they have timely access to reliable patient data; 47% said that medical technologies are still not intuitive or easy to use, and 45% believe they don’t get enough training to help them maximize the value of the tools they have at hand.
“Progress can also bring with it tension. In a specialized field like healthcare, resolving that tension is complex and it starts by listening to those who are at the center of care,” said GE HealthCare President and CEO Peter Arduini, in a press release. “[This study] is a bold reminder of the barriers to overcome, and a call to action to all stakeholders in healthcare to innovate and problem solve with a focus on the needs of patients and clinicians.”
Hope for AI peeks through clouds of distrust
Despite the widespread concerns about AI in its present state, there is optimism about the future. Sixty percent of clinicians agree that it’s very important to use advanced technology to improve the efficiency of basic clinical tasks, and 64% think that population health will improve if care teams and data specialists work more closely together on new tools and strategies.
Clinicians are also mostly in favor of using AI to support clinical decision making (61%), enable faster and more personalized health interventions (54%), and improve operational and backend efficiencies (55%).
“AI is going to fundamentally change the way people work,” predicted Dr. Guy Lloyd, a cardiologist and specialist in diagnostic imaging who participated in the study. “In my world, which is imaging, we’re going to be moving from interpretation and measuring to communications and contextualization. A challenge is making sure everyone is brought along for the ride.”
Envisioning an integrated, data-driven future
While clinicians may be somewhat divided on the role of technology in supporting better outcomes and experiences for both themselves and their patients, they do agree on the ultimate goals of healthcare reform.
Ninety-nine percent of clinicians somewhat or completely agree with the following description of an ideal health system:
“Patients and care teams are more intimately linked together in a partnership via technology solutions. Patient care and medical treatment will take place both within and outside of traditional clinical environments, such as in patients’ homes. The healthcare ecosystem is expanded to include a more varied range of healthcare workers, some of whom may not be present today.”
Close to two-thirds of clinicians added that fair working conditions for care teams will be critical for achieving this desired state, especially as burnout and a growing, aging population threaten the sustainability of the present healthcare ecosystem.
Providers will also need to get more comfortable with delivering care outside of the traditional healthcare environment, including developing more trust in home-based care and testing. Currently, only half of respondents feel confident about delivering care in non-traditional settings.
Overall, it will take a combination of improved technology, better training, and more professional support before clinicians really trust that AI can help them deliver coordinated, informed, and equitable healthcare.
As AI continues to evolve, stakeholders will need to keep these concerns in mind and address skepticism among providers to encourage adoption of advanced technologies and truly have an impact on patient care.
Jennifer Bresnick is a journalist and freelance content creator with a decade of experience in the health IT industry. Her work has focused on leveraging innovative technology tools to create value, improve health equity, and achieve the promises of the learning health system. She can be reached at email@example.com.