Experts agree that forecasting the future of healthcare technology isn’t difficult—machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud technologies that apply to clinical, workplace, and financial processes will have better and richer incorporation into the industry.
But to get there, healthcare executives need to be laying the cultural foundation today for upcoming technology changes in the next decade.
For example, investing in AI over the next five years could cost, on average, more than $30 million per organization, according to a survey of 500 healthcare executives by OptumIQ published in November 2018. However, 38% of employers and 20% of health plans believe they would see a return on that investment in four years or less. Ultimately, 94% of respondents see investments in technologies, such as AI, as the clearest route to affordable, accessible and equitable healthcare in the future.
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But in order to realize those future possibilities, a culture shift needs to happen in healthcare today, says Tom Lawry, director of worldwide health for Microsoft. He adds that the future of healthcare technology relies more on the culture and framework being created by clinical and business leaders today.
“What really is going to be needed in the future is not just the breakthroughs in technology, but breakthroughs in creative thinking and the ability of leaders to think differently when redeveloping their processes to leverage the power of the technologies rather than trying to insert these new technologies into a framework,” Lawry says.
Anil Jain, MD, vice president and chief information officer for Watson Health at IBM, says that healthcare organizations will need to shake the stigma of being bureaucratic and slow to adapt in order to be agile enough to adopt future technologies.
“Healthcare organizations need to start to push the agenda that says that innovation is important to healthcare. People outside of healthcare view the industry as very conservative, very slow to adapt,” Jain says. But when you talk to people inside the industry, we all think we’re moving very, very quickly. The key is for these healthcare organizations to get involved in the national debate, at the advocacy level and advising others on what the industry needs, so that movement is made collectively.”
Although it is difficult to predict, these experts have given their insights on where healthcare technology will be the most impactful in the next decade: