Five AI Trends for Healthcare Marketers to Know

AI in Healthcare

AI is shaping the present and future of healthcare delivery, and women are taking note. Accenture reports on five trends in how the technological evolution is playing out.

Accenture Consulting recently published a report that outlines five exciting AI trends in healthcare. The report points out opportunities and obstacles inherent in the rapid innovations in medical technology and suggests a number of solutions that can help healthcare providers deliver better care to patients. Below, I’ve summarized the report’s main points and included some thoughts about how healthcare marketers can use this information to connect with women.

Trend 1: AI as a New Citizen in the Healthcare Space

Artificial intelligence, like a young child, is growing and absorbing the knowledge we give it. While this is exciting, it also comes with some watch-outs.

  • As noted in this Stanford Health report, bias shows up (and can become amplified) in AI when the data it uses is biased. This is of particular concern to women, who are historically and currently underrepresented in clinical trials.
  • Clinicians sometimes distrust AI, so proving improved outcomes when it’s used is essential to gain buy-in.
  • Patients want transparency around how healthcare decisions for them are made, so it’s important that doctors be able to explain it.

Interesting stats:

  • 80 percent of health executives say that in the next two years, AI will become a co-worker, collaborator and trusted advisor.
  • 81 percent of health executives say organizations aren’t ready to handle the social and liability issues around explaining their AI-based decisions.

Trend 2: The Rise of Extended Reality Technology

Physical distance is becoming less of a barrier as more tech is developed to help close gaps. Extended reality (XR) tech blurs the line between technology and the real world. With virtual reality (VR), a headset and handheld controls take users into a virtual environment. With augmented reality (AU), digital objects are overlaid on the real world. There are numerous practical applications in the medical field that can advance care for patients.

  • Training scenarios can be set up anywhere.
  • Information that was formerly in a 2D format, such as CT and MRI scans, can now be experienced in 3D — which helps doctors plan treatments and helps patients understand their medical issues.
  • XR facilitates mental health treatment for those who can’t access it for reasons of mobility or distance.
  • VR (and telemedicine) is useful for women managing concerns around childcare; eliminating the hassle of getting to and from appointments with small children can make a big difference.
  • XR can help with practical everyday tasks like phlebotomy.
  • Doctors can use it to create detailed surgical plans based on available information, and they can share that data with other doctors so they can learn from it.
  • It shortens the distance between information and application, for instance by using AU to overlay data on an in-progress surgery.

Interesting stats:

  • 72 percent of health executives say XR will impact nearly every industry in the next five years.
  • 82 percent of health executives say XR helps organizations solve the issue of distance when serving customers.

Trend 3: Data Veracity

Many systems are deeply concerned about their lack of data security and veracity. For data to be useful, it must be clean and vetted. But there aren’t currently sufficient systems in place to ensure this. Cyberattacks, data theft and information falsification are increasing in frequency. Because faked data can look exactly the same as legit data, it’s not always possible to tell when data has become corrupted by a malicious third party. When women distrust a hospital (whether it’s because of data breaches or for other reasons), they participate less in essential health screenings — so trust is quite literally essential to saving lives.

Technologies like blockchain have the potential to reduce or eliminate security issues throughout the healthcare experience. Since this is an evolving technology, it isn’t in widespread use yet.

Interesting stats:

  • A quarter of organizations have been targeted by malicious AI (like bot fraud, spoofed IoT data or falsified location data) multiple times. 83 percent of doctors have experienced a theft of data or a data breach.
  • 77 percent of health plans and providers say they can’t protect themselves from corrupted insights or falsified data.

Trend 4: Frictionless Business

Tech partnerships are the wave of the future of healthcare, but legacy systems are standing in the way. Two technologies have the potential to help: microservices and blockchain.

Microservices are tools that break large applications down into smaller parts and then develop APIs to help them work together. This helps minimize complexity and facilitates communication. When microservices are paired with information from wearables, health and wellness apps, and telehealth logs, they can intervene when a patient shows an alarming health trend, misses a blood test or has a shift in their lifestyle. Since women use wearables at higher rates than men, they stand to benefit more from such microservices.

Healthcare data tends to be siloed (both within and across organizations), which makes holistic care difficult. Blockchain can connect segmented data silos while eliminating the issue of trust. Blockchain-based smart contracts will facilitate this.

Interesting stats:

  • 88 percent of health executives agree that to scale and integrate ecosystem partnerships, microservices will be critical.
  • 32 percent of providers and 48 percent of health plans say blockchain will be integrated into their systems within one to two years.

Trend 5: The Internet of Thinking

For companies to be competitive, their technological infrastructure must match their ambitions — but currently that’s not happening. The speed and capacity needed to enable instant insights and intelligent solutions aren’t supported by today’s tech infrastructure; we don’t yet have the bandwidth.

Healthcare devices are currently generating massive amounts of data, and now we need tools that can interpret it and implement solutions. Healthcare organizations need to develop edge computing, which brings memory and computing power close to the physical location where it’s used. This will allow medical devices to perform instant analytics and decisions without having to wait for cloud access or human approval. It can be thought of as the IoT for medicine with built-in software that reduces failure rates. It’s already happening to some degree (with the NeuroPace device, for example), but in order to do it at scale, the current technological infrastructure must be extended.

Interesting stats:

  • 82 percent of health executives say edge computing will speed up technological innovation and maturity, and that improvements in hardware are critical.
  • 85 percent of health executives say that edge computing is necessary to generate real-time insights from all the data currently being generated.

Practical Applications for Healthcare Marketers

Women have a great deal of interest in evolving technologies that can eliminate distance and convenience hassles, help them better connect with their healthcare providers, and prevent or eliminate health problems. Marketers of hospitals and healthcare systems can help by showing them the practical applications of a system’s evolving use of technology. By focusing on developments in data processing, marketers give all consumers an opportunity to peek behind a hospital or health system’s tech curtain and understand how the system is working to improve care — and that’s good for everyone.

Kathy Selker
I’m Kathy Selker. My work as CEO of Northlich, a Cincinnati-based healthcare marketing agency, has taught me a great deal about how hospitals and health systems can best connect with women to make the most positive impact in their lives.
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