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Survey Says: Patients are Ready for – and Expecting – AI

Image courtesy of marcos alvarado / Alamy Stock Photo IMG_2022-6-9-105204.jpg
A new survey shows that patients are eager to embrace artificial intelligence in healthcare.

Every day, artificial intelligence (AI) plays a role in our lives - whether we realize it or not. Siri and Alexa assist in managing day-to-day tasks, and mapping apps get us to our destinations and reroute us when traffic backs up or accidents occur. Even banks and investment companies leverage AI to protect us from fraud, provide customer service, and help us reach our personal financial goals.

The capabilities of AI truly offer many practical advantages – from reducing human errors and supporting faster decision making, to handling repetitive, time-intensive jobs and having someone available to help us anytime we need it.

Do We Trust Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare?

It’s clear we rely on AI in many aspects of our lives, but do we trust it enough for healthcare?

In our recently conducted survey, we sought to gauge whether patients had concerns about the use of AI in healthcare and whether they were even aware when it was being used. The first step was to determine how many patients were aware that AI was being utilized in their daily care.

More than half of patients surveyed indicated that they have not received care supported by AI 19% said yes, and another one-quarter were not sure. What's interesting is that the younger patients -- think digital natives -- were more likely than other generations to believe that AI has played a role in their care.

Digging deeper into the survey results, we also looked specifically into how AI relates to medical imaging. Nearly half of respondents said they would trust a diagnosis solely from an AI application review of medical imaging results while another 22% were neutral. Much like we found with the perception of the overall use of AI in healthcare, younger patients were more likely to trust an all AI-based diagnosis.

Even more patients (59%) fully trusted AI when it was used to assist a human radiologist in making diagnoses. And older patients, those 55+, were significantly more likely to trust AI when combined with a radiologist’s review, versus just AI alone.

Patients also painted a bright future for the use of AI in radiology. Within five years, 60% said they believed AI would account for more than half of radiology services, with over  8% saying AI will handle all of it.

Growing Adoption of Artificial Intelligence Now, and Looking Forward

The use of AI in radiology is expected to grow in the near term. According to annual survey results performed by the American College of Radiology (ACR), currently, only about 30% of radiologists have incorporated AI into their regular clinical work. But within the next five years, another 20% of the ACR survey respondents said they had plans to purchase AI tools to help their practice.

Those using AI within radiology workflows are seeing many benefits, not only for the radiologists themselves but for the patients, too. For example, 41% of radiologists suffer from burnout, depression or, both, with half of those reporting it has a strong or severe impact on their lives. The chief cause of this burnout is spending too many hours at work, which is becoming more commonplace as diagnostic imaging grows and more images are taken per patient with sophisticated 3D technologies. The use of AI can help improve productivity and efficiency by managing routine tasks and highlighting anomalies in images so radiologists can more quickly focus on areas of concern. AI also helps with time-consuming administrative tasks, pulling data from workflows, and then automatically creating and delivering reports. By making radiologists more efficient, AI frees up their time to focus on complex scans, research, and improved patient care.

For patients, AI systems can help radiologists prioritize urgent cases, like strokes, where quick identification of the problem, accurate diagnosis, and fast treatment are necessary for survival and optimal outcomes. Radiologists can also leverage AI to add a layer of precision, searching for anomalies that may go unnoticed and providing additional decision support during busy times or overnight shifts. Furthermore, AI can be a valuable tool for monitoring patients’ conditions, precisely measuring tumors or anatomy over time. With this information at hand, the medical team will have detailed knowledge about changes to make future treatment decisions.

Given the many positives that AI can deliver when incorporated into medical imaging, it’s clear that many more patients – and providers – will benefit from the application as adoption increases across radiology practices. Thus, it’s important that healthcare organizations seek to adopt the technology into their practice as we proceed through this new era of advanced medicine and seek to further change the standard of care, improve efficiencies, and help clinicians make better-informed decisions.

About the Author

Morris Panner is the President of Intelerad Medical Systems, leading the company on delivering better care through improved technology. Morris served as CEO of Ambra Health from 2011 until its acquisition by Intelerad in 2021. Morris is an active voice in the cloud and enterprise software arena, focused on the services and healthcare verticals. He is a frequent contributor to business, healthcare, and technology publications. Previously, Morris built and sold an industry-leading business-process software company, OpenAir, to NetSuite (NYSE:N).

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