PwC Report - AI in healthcare: a perspective on the practicalities

Max Dillon, Data Scientist, PwC

James Thatcher, Data Scientist, PwC

Recent advances in the technologies underpinning artificial intelligence have led to a rising tide of attention, both positive and negative. Healthcare is commonly cited as an industry that stands to gain from emerging technology, attracting interest from leading researchers around the globe. AI can be the source of a host of benefits to healthcare, resulting in lower costs and improved patient outcomes as it is used to enhance the ability of providers of care. However, there is some caution from stakeholders which needs to be managed: a recent survey conducted by YouGov and PwC found that a quarter of patients see no benefit to healthcare from the introduction of AI.

Whilst the media has tended to focus on the theoretical implications of introducing this technology, to date, little attention has been given to the practical steps that need to be taken to ensure that the full benefits are realised. These include: appropriate handling of patient data; robust and reliable infrastructure; and building a culture of trust in emerging technology. These are not trivial tasks. With inspiration drawn from other industries, this report lays out possible steps that those working in healthcare can take to aid a symbiotic integration of this advanced technology into the industry, bringing the most benefit to patients in the UK.

The report explores the following six areas that can guide practitioners in managing the integration of AI systems into the NHS:

  1. Data sharing
  2. Data protection
  3. Data governance
  4. Digital fundamentals
  5. Building trust in AI
  6. Reframing the AI conversation

This is not an ordered list: each item holds equal importance and will require engagement from stakeholders at all levels. These are not necessarily the most visible or glamorous tasks, but previous experience has shown them to be vital to digital transformation projects.

The benefits of integrating new technologies into healthcare are numerous, profound and well documented, ultimately leading to improved patient care. However, the optimism surrounding this potential often forgets the reality of embedding the technology into existing systems, both technical and societal. Whilst the challenges are numerous, this report presents examples of measures that medical practitioners can take to support the responsible stewardship of AI into healthcare, helping to release the potential sooner, to a wider audience.

Read the full report below.

  • Katherine Mayes

    Katherine Mayes

    Programme Manager | Cloud, Data, Analytics and AI
    T 020 7331 2019
PwC report on 'AI in healthcare' (pdf)

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