Healthcare Leaders Expect AI to Unseat Telehealth as Top Digital Health Investment
June 28, 2021, 11:00:00 PM
In the next three years, only 40 percent of healthcare leader respondents say they expect to invest heavily in telehealth, while AI will emerge as a key area for investment
In a new, forward-looking report from health technology company Philips, researchers predict that artificial intelligence (AI) will overtake telehealth as the top digital health investment in the next three years.
Now in its sixth year, the “Future Health Index 2021” report from Philips is based on proprietary research across 14 countries, and company officials say it’s the largest global survey of its kind to analyze the current and future priorities of healthcare leaders worldwide.
Feedback from healthcare leaders – including executive officers, financial officers, technology and information officers, operations officers and more – explores the challenges they have faced since the onset of the pandemic, and where their current and future priorities lie, revealing a new vision for the future of healthcare. With a focus on patient-centered healthcare enabled by smart technology, their vision is shaped by a fresh emphasis on partnerships, sustainability and new models of care delivery, both inside and outside the hospital, the report’s authors stated.
One key finding from the report is that while telehealth has certainly been prioritized during COVID-19, it’s expected that investments in AI will rise higher after the pandemic. While still grappling with the crisis, 64 percent of healthcare leaders around the world continue to prioritize telehealth when it comes to digital health technology investments. This number is particularly high in the U.S. (89 percent).
However, in the next three years, only 40 percent expect to invest heavily in telehealth and AI emerges as a key area for investment (36 percent today, 74 percent in three years). Healthcare leaders in emerging economies like Saudi Arabia (98 percent), India (94 percent) and Russia (85 percent) plan to prioritize investments in AI the most in 2024, even more than those in the U.S. (80 percent).
Other key trends in healthcare leaders’ current and post-COVID outlook coming out of the report include:
After a year of crisis, healthcare leaders remain optimistic about the future. The vast majority (86 percent) think their hospital showed resilience during the pandemic and feel confident in the future (75 percent).
While leaders rank preparing to respond to crises as their top priority today – with 69 percent choosing this option – the figure falls to just 3 percent in three years’ time, indicating healthcare leaders expect to shift their focus away from crisis preparedness.
Current plans for value-based care have been hit by COVID-19 in many countries, with 33 percent of healthcare leaders in Brazil and 25 percent in the U.S. saying they have deprioritized this area because of the pandemic. However, overall the picture remains positive: 50 percent of all leaders are either practicing value-based care currently, or plan to in the future.
“The Future Health Index 2021 report reflects pockets of positivity amid the COVID-19 crisis. Healthcare leaders have seen first-hand how digital health technology can ensure the continued delivery of care in incredibly difficult circumstances,” said Jan Kimpen, chief medical officer, Philips. “Many are now reassessing their technology capabilities as they consider what’s next. While we can’t be sure what the next few years hold, what shines forth from this report is that healthcare leaders are committed to building healthcare systems that are sustainable, adaptable and – above all – resilient.”