22% of Orgs Currently Use Artificial Intelligence Software – HealthITAnalytics.com

22% of orgs currently use artificial intelligence software

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By Jessica Kent

– Twenty-two percent of healthcare organizations use a software platform that provides artificial intelligence capability, according to a recent report from HealthLeaders Media.

This is an eight-point increase from 2017, the organization noted, indicating that AI use is steadily rising among health systems.

Thirty-one percent said they plan to have AI capability within the next three years, and 63 percent said their organizations plan to increase their investments in analytics technologies within the next three years.

HealthLeaders surveyed 128 individuals representing different healthcare provider organizations, aiming to measure AI and analytics use across the healthcare ecosystem.

Providers see a wide range of applications for AI, with 81 percent of respondents saying their organizations currently or plan to apply the technology to clinical data, 72 percent to financial data, and 59 percent to patient data.

READ MORE: Patient, Provider Support Key to Healthcare Artificial Intelligence

Organizations also see potential in analytics capabilities. Sixty-three percent of respondents said they plan to increase their investments in analytics, while 35 percent said their investments would stay the same. Just two percent of respondents said their investments would decrease.

Health systems are also leveraging analytics strategies to extract insights from various sources of information. The report found that 78 percent of respondents said they use descriptive analytics for financial data, while 81 percent said they leverage descriptive analytics for their clinical data.

However, fewer participants use predictive capabilities for financial and clinical data analytics. Sixty-four percent said they apply predictive analytics to their financial data and 52 percent reported using predictive capabilities for clinical data.

Analytics investments have led to a strong return on investment for organizations: Forty-one percent describe their organizations’ return on investment on analytics as acceptable, while 30 percent describe analytics ROI as good and 14 percent describe it as very good.

Just 16 percent of respondents describe their analytics ROI as poor or very poor.

READ MORE: Just 50% of Hospital Leaders Familiar with Artificial Intelligence

When asked about the most significant challenges in performing analytics, most respondents named issues involving human skills and staffing.

Forty-eight percent of participants see the need for timely analysis as the top challenge in performing analytics over the next three years. Forty-six percent said overcoming insufficient analytics skills would be the most challenging, while thirty-seven percent view insufficient funding as their biggest issue.

In addition to revealing staff education and training issues, these barriers also reflect investment challenges, researchers noted.

“Two of the top three tactical challenges are either indirectly or directly related to financial resources,” the report stated.

“For example, the solution to solving the problem of insufficient skills in analytics is investment in training or adding analytics staff, and insufficient funding in light of other priorities needs no explanation.”

READ MORE: Top 4 Ways to Advance Artificial Intelligence in Medical Imaging

These findings mirror statements from a February 2019 Kaufman Hall report, which said that financial executives should expand the scope of their responsibilities and investments in order to keep up with new technologies.

“Given the demands of the changing business environment, healthcare CFOs nationwide should be critically examining the role they and their finance teams play in their organizations. A singular focus on directing or managing financial operations and the related control/monitoring function is not sufficient going forward,” the report concluded.

“Finance executives must be integral to the development, execution, and monitoring of the organization’s vision and strategy, and be armed with the full breadth of data and analytics required for performance management in healthcare.”

Organizations also cited data-related challenges in performing analytics. Half of respondents said integrating internal clinical and financial data is a top challenge, and 46 percent said integrating external clinical and financial data is a major barrier.

The third most-cited challenge was improving EHR interoperability, with 43 percent of respondents naming this as a major barrier to building analytics capabilities.

Looking ahead, 62 percent of respondents said that the most promising area of analytics development would be clinical best practices, while 54 percent cited real-time delivery of actionable information as the most promising area of analytics.

This indicates that most health systems are interested in using analytics technologies to enhance care delivery and outcomes. Thirty-nine percent of participants also named improved quality of care as the primary goal they would expect to achieve through integrating financial and clinical data.

In September 2019, a survey from HIMSS Analytics and Dimensional Insight yielded similar results, showing that the future of the industry will focus on quality rather than quantity.

“As healthcare organizations move to value-based payment models, they are finding that focusing on clinical metrics, including readmission rates, infection control, and patient outcome improvements is critical for success,” George Dealy, vice president of healthcare solutions at Dimensional Insight, said at the time. 

“Analytics provides tremendous insight into these areas and can benefit healthcare organizations that are navigating this transition.”

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