Strategies for Overcoming Adoption Challenges
By Bulat Lutfullin, AI/ML Product Lead, Provectus
The healthcare industry is on the brink of a technological revolution that could change the way we diagnose, treat, and manage diseases. Artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a game-changer, with the potential to improve patient outcomes, enhance clinical decision-making, and optimize resource utilization.
However, the road to AI adoption in healthcare is fraught with challenges that must be overcome to realize its full potential. From technical hurdles such as data standardization and integration to ethical considerations such as bias and job displacement, there are several obstacles to navigate.
Challenges of AI Adoption in Healthcare
According to Vantage Market Research’s latest analysis, the AI market for Healthcare and Life Sciences (HCLS) is projected to soar to a staggering $95.65B by 2028, up from $6.60B in 2021, reflecting a remarkable compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 46.1%. But despite the widespread recognition of AI’s potential, actual adoption has been slow due to several technical, organizational, and ethical challenges.
Lack of data standardization and interoperability
One of the biggest challenges in AI adoption is data. Healthcare data is complex and heterogeneous, coming in various structured, semi-structured, and unstructured formats (e.g. EHRs, administrative data, medical claims, doctor notes, etc.). This variability makes it difficult to prepare and integrate the data for processing, and then to analyze it using AI/ML algorithms and BI & Analytics tools. On top of that, healthcare data is often siloed within different healthcare organizations and systems, making it hard to access, share, and use effectively.
Difficulty in integrating AI with existing systems
Most healthcare systems, from disease registries and provider order entry to EMRs, EHRs, and PHRs, were not designed with AI in mind. As a result, the integration process can be time-consuming, costly, and may require significant changes to existing infrastructure and operations. Use commas not dashes
Issues with data privacy and security
AI/ML algorithms rely heavily on large amounts of data, often including sensitive patient information. Ensuring data privacy and security is critical in healthcare, as any breaches can have severe consequences. Maintaining data privacy and security while utilizing AI can be a significant challenge.
Resistance to change and lack of understanding
Healthcare organizations may be hesitant to adopt AI due to fear of job displacement, reluctance to invest in new technology, or lack of understanding of AI’s potential benefits. The inevitable change of operations and processes may not sit well with staff, let alone the daunting requirement of organization-wide adoption of data- and AI-focused culture.
Lack of funding and resources
Implementing AI in healthcare is without doubt costly. As per the data from Analytics Insights, the investment required for a fully tailored AI solution can range between a modest $20,000 and a substantial $1,000,000. In contrast, a more budget-friendly minimum viable product (MVP) can be achieved within a spending limit of $8,000 to $15,000. Healthcare organizations may lack the necessary funding and resources to invest in new technology, and training and hiring staff with the necessary expertise.
Regulatory and legal barriers
Regulatory and legal frameworks around AI in healthcare are still evolving, which can create a certain degree of uncertainty. Concerns around data privacy, security, and liability can make it difficult for healthcare organizations to navigate the regulatory landscape.
Bias in AI/ML algorithms
In the United States, an estimated 100,000 individuals are impacted by medical errors annually. These errors impose a staggering financial burden on the nation’s healthcare system, amounting to $20B per year. In the context of AI, algorithms are only as effective as the data they are trained on; biased data can lead to biased algorithms. In healthcare, where mistakes can be a matter of life and death, biased algorithms can have serious consequences, including misdiagnosis or suboptimal treatment.
Concerns about AI’s impact on doctor-patient relationships
AI can have an undesirable impact on doctor-patient relationships. Patients may be hesitant to trust AI-generated diagnoses or recommendations, and healthcare providers may feel that their professional autonomy and expertise is threatened by AI.
Potential loss of jobs and workforce retraining
The implementation of AI may lead to job displacement for healthcare workers whose roles become automated. Retraining your workforce to adapt to new technologies can be a significant challenge, even if they voluntarily opt in.
All of these obstacles are undeniably significant. Fortunately, they can all be addressed by implementing holistic AI strategies.
Strategies for Overcoming AI Adoption Challenges
It is important to approach AI adoption with caution and care, as even seemingly straightforward AI/ML projects can be demanding. Despite the challenges of AI adoption, facing and overcoming them will be well worth the effort.
According to a recent paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research, wider adoption of AI could result in cost savings of 5-10% in US healthcare spending, roughly $200B to $360B annually, over the next five years. These cost savings could be a game-changer for the industry, freeing up resources for other critical areas of healthcare, with the added potential to improve healthcare quality, increase access to care, enhance the patient experience, and boost clinician satisfaction. commas
Implementing these strategies will make it easier for your organization to adopt and implement AI:
- Establish data governance frameworks. Data governance is the solution to the challenges of data standardization, integration, and interoperability. Data governance frameworks can ensure that data is collected, managed, and analyzed in a consistent and standardized manner, making it easier to use in AI/ML development. Data governance is also key for data discovery and observability, which translate into improved data quality, ultimately leading to more accurate AI insights and more practical value for businesses.
- Collaborate with technology providers. Providers of AI services, including Managed AI Services, can help healthcare organizations to integrate data- and AI-powered solutions with existing systems, provide training and support for staff, and ensure that data privacy and security are maintained. Tapping into their talent and expertise ensures AI adoption success, without compromising critical healthcare operations.
- Educate and involve stakeholders. Educating stakeholders about AI’s potential benefits, providing training and support for staff, and involving patients in the decision-making process can help to reduce resistance to change and increase buy-in for AI adoption. Explaining the value of AI from step one can mean the difference between success and failure.
- Develop regulatory frameworks. Healthcare organizations must work with policymakers and regulators to develop clear regulatory frameworks around AI in healthcare. These frameworks should ensure that data privacy and security are maintained, liability is appropriately assigned, and ethical concerns are addressed.
- Address bias in AI/ML algorithms. Healthcare organizations should strategize to ensure that data used to train AI/ML algorithms is diverse and representative of the patient population. They should implement regular audits of AI/ML algorithms to identify and address any biases that may emerge. Augmenting AI solutions with a human-in-the-loop (HITL) component for verifying the results of AI/ML work is a recommended best practice.
- Focus on augmenting rather than replacing human skills with AI. Healthcare providers should be trained to work collaboratively with AI, utilizing its capabilities to enhance their decision-making. AI should be a tool for enhancement, not replacement.
The challenges of AI adoption in healthcare are not insurmountable. The key to success is to approach AI adoption in a responsible and ethical manner that addresses common challenges while maximizing the benefits of this technology.
The adoption of AI in healthcare presents various technical, organizational, regulatory, and ethical challenges. By embracing the potential of AI, healthcare organizations can improve patient outcomes, reduce costs, and transform the healthcare industry as we know it. The challenges are well worth the efforts to overcome them.
It is crucial to approach AI adoption in a responsible and ethical manner, with a focus on patient privacy, security, and the preservation of human skills. Finding the right balance between technological innovation and human expertise ensures that the benefits of AI are harnessed to improve patient care, while maintaining the integrity of the healthcare system and the trust of patients and stakeholders.
Don’t let the challenges of AI adoption hold your organization back. Start your AI journey today!