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AI-powered Diagnostics and Medical Robotics: The Key to the Future of Healthcare

HEALTH & MEDICINEAI-powered Diagnostics and Medical Robotics: The Key to the Future of Healthcare

The global healthcare system is grappling with staff shortages, and the deficit of workers is one of the biggest challenges in the sector. In the face of these challenges, AI solutions will be the key to reducing treatment costs and increasing access to health care, according to the report titled 2024 Global Health Care Sector Outlook, prepared by consultancy firm Deloitte. Artificial Intelligence will streamline administration and in the longer term, revolutionize medical diagnostics.

The report developed by Deloitte presents the current situation and prospects for global health care. The industry is undergoing a period of unprecedented transformation driven by technological progress, demographic changes, and changing patient needs. According to the authors of the study, the most critical phenomena transforming healthcare include: the development of artificial intelligence, a shortage of medical personnel, and adapting to climate change.

Several years after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare systems around the world are still grappling with its effects. The need to reduce costs and improve access to care while struggling with a shortage of qualified workers has accelerated the implementation of new technologies. From 2019-2022, private equity investors allocated 31.5 billion dollars to artificial intelligence in medicine. Venture capital funding, considered a barometer of technological investment in the industry, reached a record 39.3 billion dollars in 2021. Although it fell by 30% in 2022 (to 27.5 billion dollars), this is still a figure indicative of steady growth over recent years.

The most significant opportunity associated with artificial intelligence is its application in streamlining administrative tasks and reducing related costs. AI is proving useful in creating documentation, handling pre-operative processes, and analyzing insurance claims. Technology can also assist in predicting patient outcomes based on their unique health profiles, recommending treatment methods, and warning doctors of risk factors such as allergies and contraindicated drugs. Furthermore, generative AI allows for analyzing diagnostic data from various sources, including electronic medical records and monitoring devices worn by patients. This technology will play a significant role in early disease detection, interpreting imaging results, and identifying patients requiring the most urgent treatment.

According to our observations, the pace and scope of AI implementation in healthcare will largely depend on the degree of trust by physicians and patients. Hence, the priority for technology providers should be to ensure the reliability of AI while ensuring maximum data security, transparency in their collection and addressing ethical considerations. Transparency in the operation of algorithms will be essential to increasing trust among healthcare professionals and patients – says Andrzej Skasko, associate partner, Deloitte Digital.

A crucial aspect currently is the introduction of uniform legal regulations regarding the application of AI. The European Union has responded most promptly to this need. The European Commission established a regulatory framework for artificial intelligence in 2021, and the final regulations could be implemented as early as 2024.

Findings cited in the report indicate that the global demand for medical personnel in 2030 will be 84 million, almost 30% more than in 2020. The World Health Organization predicts that there will be a shortage of 10 million healthcare workers worldwide by 2030. Meeting this demand will require transforming care models, redesigning workplaces, and revising the principles of interaction between employer and employee.

Key factors influencing staffing shortages undeniably include an increasing level of career burnout among medical staff. Doctors from developed countries cite negative factors such as wage levels, administrative workload, and lack of work-life balance. At the same time, almost a quarter of European health care workers claim that the issue of burnout will only escalate – says Władysław Mizia, leader of Consulting for the medical market in Poland, Deloitte.

Over the next few decades, aging European societies will require millions of skilled long-term care workers. The European Strategy in the Field of Care adopted by the European Commission in 2022 partly outlines goals to meet these needs. One of them is to achieve high-quality, affordable and accessible care services, with better remuneration and conditions for professional caregivers.

Without a doubt, wage increases are among the most effective methods of attracting and retaining workers. Artificial intelligence, which will relieve doctors of administrative tasks, is also expected to enhance the satisfaction levels of medical staff.

Data cited in the report from the WHO indicate that in the years 2030–2050, climate change may cause approximately a quarter of a million deaths per year globally. The crisis will primarily hit areas with weak health infrastructure, with up to 99% of diseases caused by environmental conditions occurring in these regions. Challenges for health care will become increasingly geographically diverse due to factors such as rising sea levels and temperature increases. According to Deloitte’s analysis, climate change-induced exacerbation of social problems relating to economic equality, gender equality, and migration will also significantly affect healthcare. Meanwhile, healthcare contributes to nearly 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with G20 countries accounting for more than 75% of this total.

The report indicates that the decarbonization strategy for the industry should cover three categories of emissions: those at facility level, those produced when using energy purchased from external grids, and those in the supply chain. The sector must address issues like the fact that around 15% of all medical waste generated is hazardous, which can be infectious, toxic or radioactive. Therefore, intensifying environmental efforts is a necessity.

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