Health IT

These 10 AI applications are poised to have the greatest impact in healthcare

The latest report from Accenture, which claims the health AI market will hit $6.6 billion by 2021, also highlights which AI applications will have the biggest near-term impact in healthcare.

If you have doubt that artificial intelligence is going to play a role in healthcare’s continued development, think again.

A new report from Accenture, titled “Artificial Intelligence: Healthcare’s New Nervous System,” provides a bit of clarity on why technology will be a growing force in the medical world.

Accenture predicts the health AI market will grow at an annual rate of 40 percent through 2021, reaching $6.6 billion by that year. In 2014, the market was only at $600 million.

Digging a little deeper, Accenture makes it clear that a few specific AI applications will have the biggest near-term effect on healthcare. To gain a thorough understanding of their impact, Accenture comprehensively analyzed the applications.

The organization estimates each item will have the following value (or potential annual benefits) by 2026:

  • Robot-assisted surgery — $40 billion
  • Virtual nursing assistants — $20 billion
  • Administrative workflow assistance — $18 billion
  • Fraud detection — $17 billion
  • Dosage error reduction — $16 billion
  • Connected machines — $14 billion
  • Clinical trial participant identifier — $13 billion
  • Preliminary diagnosis — $5 billion
  • Automated image diagnosis — $3 billion
  • Cybersecurity — $2 billion

In case you weren’t doing the math, this adds up to a total value of about $150 billion.

The number one application, robot-assisted surgery, specifically applies to orthopedic surgery.

“Cognitive robotics can integrate information from pre-op medical records with real-time operating metrics to physically guide and enhance the physician’s instrument precision,” the report notes. “The technology incorporates data from actual surgical experiences to inform new, improved techniques and insights.”

Accenture cited Mazor Robotics as a prime example of the value AI can bring to the operating room. Specifically, Mazor’s robotic arm allows a surgeon’s instruments to be completely guided.

The second biggest application, virtual nursing assistants, can save nurses from unnecessarily having to visit patients and can keep patients from unnecessarily visiting the hospital.

And administrative workflow assistance applications can save valuable time for physicians and nurses by cutting down on non-patient care tasks such as writing prescriptions.

Overall, Accenture believes hospitals should focus on four areas — care reach, institutional readiness, security and workforce — so as to take advantage of all that AI has to offer.

“AI is not an innovation coming down the pike — it’s here,” the report states. “Those who seize the AI opportunity and embrace these applications to deliver high-quality, cost-effective care will be the ones to leapfrog competitors.”

Photo credit: nambitomo, Getty Images