Healthcare is changing - and technology is playing a major role in that change. The ever growing population and a longer life expectancy will put more and more pressure on the healthcare system in the UK. There is a clear need to find smarter and more efficient ways of treating these increasing numbers, to the highest standards.
Patients hold the key to understanding what changes need to be made today, and in the future, to help the healthcare industry prosper and respond effectively to patient needs. Our latest patients’ voice survey looks at how patients are currently interacting with healthcare providers and the opportunities available for them to embrace new technologies such as artificial intelligence to improve speed, effectiveness and response.
Although some patients are more sceptical than others, the fact that 4 in 10 would be willing to engage with technology in their healthcare experience signals a huge opportunity to transform healthcare delivery for the benefit of patients in the UK. Providers should look to the future - the paths of technological development and patient willingness are coming together.
Patients noted that the top 3 advantages of using AI in health to be:
However despite the AI hype, there's still work to be done in healthcare to build trust among UK patients in this type of technology. 1 in 4 people can't see the benefits of using AI in healthcare at all and almost a third, state that they don’t understand this kind of technology enough to know if it can benefit or be dangerous in healthcare. There is more work to be done to educate patients on the new technologies that are surfacing to enable the right understanding of the opportunities AI presents.
50% of all respondents would be likely to consider using a service that allowed their health records to be shared with different healthcare organisations.
We asked respondents if they would be willing to share their health records with different healthcare organisations such as hospitals, private providers or specialist clinics if there was a free, independent online service so that anyone treating you would have a complete view of your of your health. Interestingly there was little difference of opinion amongst the age groups, however it still leaves 50% who aren’t comfortable sharing their health records. In a separate question, 65% of respondents said they would be willing to support ongoing medical research by granting access to their anonymised records.
Nearly half (46%) of all respondents claim not to use technology to monitor their wellbeing. A further 19% do not monitor their health and wellbeing at all even without technology.
Although healthcare technology such as fitness apps and tracking devices are popular amongst the younger age brackets, some respondents claim not to use technology to monitor their wellbeing, if indeed they monitor their wellbeing at all. Of those that do use technology to monitor their wellbeing, it’s things such as Apple Smartwatch and Fitbit that are leading the way which correlates with some of the data we found in the last patients voice survey around wearable technology.
Nearly a third (30%) of patients in the UK would be willing to have major invasive surgery performed by AI - In particular nearly half of young people (18-24) would be willing (43%)
More and more advanced computer technology such as AI and robotics is being adopted by healthcare professionals to perform surgery on patients. Of the respondents, nearly a third said they would be willing to have major invasive surgery such as a knee or hip replacement, heart surgery or removal of a tumour performed by AI. There could be huge benefits to patients and doctors if we could get to a place where AI and robotics could be trusted to perform procedures in a safe and efficient way - this could be the future of how our healthcare system operates.
Although patients see some clear advantages for the introduction of AI and tech to the healthcare industry, their main concern is that AI lacks the 'human touch', and the human ability to look beyond data, and include context when making treatment choices - this demonstrates the importance UK patients place upon their relationship with medical professionals.
If just a proportion of the UK population start to use more services delivered through technology it could begin to deliver savings by freeing up both staff and resources. This could, in turn, make a serious contribution to addressing the huge financial challenges facing the health system in the UK.