Healthcare leaders need to lean into artificial intelligence (AI) or risk losing out. With advancements in technology taking place at lightning speed, 2024 is the year adopting AI becomes a strategic necessity.
Although healthcare has been slower than other industries to embrace AI, the tides are changing. A recent Morgan Stanley Research survey found that 94% of healthcare organizations use AI in some capacity, and the industry’s average budget allocation for these technologies is projected to nearly double heading into 2024. The latest Healthcare Provider IT Report from Bain and KLAS provides more evidence that healthcare is undergoing a momentous shift: 58% of healthcare leaders have an AI adoption strategy already or are actively working on one.
As providers and payors grow increasingly aware of AI’s power to transform organizations, mainly through automation, they have the opportunity to turn around chronic headwinds like rising financial pressure, staff shortages, and slow reimbursement times. Financial and administrative impacts aside, the successful implementation of AI in healthcare will reverberate through the workforce and bring about other changes that are less tangible but will greatly influence how healthcare as a whole operates.
Here are three critical ways the widespread use of AI will change healthcare:
1. Attracting top talent
In the competitive labor markets for healthcare, attracting and retaining top talent is an ongoing challenge. The younger generation entering the workforce has distinct preferences and expectations, favoring organizations that incorporate AI in day-to-day operations.
Implementing AI signals to potential employees that the company prioritizes innovation and is usually associated with exciting projects — for example, BCG found that 44% of AI workers rank “exciting” tasks as a top need, compared with just 27% of non-AI talent. Organizations that recognize the connection between technology and talent acquisition will be able to choose from their pick of stand-out candidates.
2. Building organizational competency
Standing up an AI solution isn’t as simple as it sounds, and in fact, about 60-80% of AI projects fail. As AI use broadens, fostering capability will be a key priority for healthcare. For AI to work to its full potential, there has to be full buy-in company-wide, from C-suite to sales to marketing and engineering.
Most importantly, there needs to be intentional change management. Shifting the way an organization operates is a daunting task, and for it to stick, companies need to build trust with employees and outline a sturdy rollout plan. Leaders need to ask questions like, “What changes are required to unlock the benefits?” and “What do staff need to do to accept the new tech and work with it effectively?”
Employees need proper training and guidance, and managers must clearly define expectations and goals for the AI project to succeed. When employees are actively involved in the implementation process, their fears around job security diminish as they realize that the solution is a tool designed to enhance their work and make it easier, not take it away.
3. Proactive stakeholder management
As AI becomes more and more widespread, organizations will naturally become more deliberate about any decisions involving AI. Clear standards and guidelines for weighing and buying solutions will emerge. IT departments will play a pivotal role in decision-making and the implementation process, as they need to make sure any solution aligns technically with the organization and understand the vendor’s data format and integration flexibility. They will also need to conduct cybersecurity reviews to meet security and compliance protocols.
As the AI influence on healthcare increases, forward-thinking systems may even hire Chief AI Officers or appoint an AI governing committee. Early adopters of AI will stand out as influential figures in health systems and be in high demand, with substantial opportunities for further career growth.
A call to (AI) action
AI is reshaping healthcare. With this pivot toward an AI-powered future, the message to leaders is clear: embrace AI and reap its benefits, or risk falling behind.
Beyond the promises of efficiency and improved patient outcomes, this wave of change is causing a paradigm shift in how healthcare operates. Leaders who recognize this shift as the opportunity that it is, rather than seeing it as a challenge or choosing to ignore it outright, are poised to navigate the evolving landscape successfully. The future belongs to those who lean in, lead with intention, and harness the full potential of AI to transform healthcare for the better.
About Andrew Lockhart
Andrew Lockhart is CEO of Fathom , the leader in autonomous medical coding. Andrew earned his MBA from Stanford University and his BA from the University of Toronto. He is an avid speaker and has presented at HFMA, Academy Forum, Stanford Medical School, and HBMA events.