Healthcare professionals need training in AI, says report

There is an urgent need to attract, educate, and train a generation of data literate healthcare professionals while training the current workforce to realise the potential of artificial intelligence (AI), according to a new report.

The report explores the impact of AI on the future of European healthcare and its workforce.

It highlights the need to define new organisational models and skills that healthcare professionals will need to support the adoption and scaling of the technology, and outlines the new types of talent that will need to be attracted.

The report from EIT Health and McKinsey found that basic digital skills, biomedical and data science, data analysis, and the fundamentals of genomics will be critical, if AI and machine learning is to penetrate healthcare services.

Authors noted that the WHO estimates that by 2030 the world will be short of 9.9 million doctors, nurses and midwives, which adds further urgency to address the challenge of already overburdened health systems.

Supporting the widespread adoption and scaling of AI could help alleviate resource capacity shortfalls both now and in the future, for example.

This would include streamlining or even eliminating administrative tasks which can occupy anything between 20 and 80 percent of a healthcare professional’s time.

At present, diagnostics is the main application of AI within healthcare. However, in the next 5-10 years, healthcare professionals expect clinical decision making to top the list of applications according to the survey.

Besides upskilling, better involvement of healthcare professionals in the early stages of AI development was also identified as a key need.

44% of healthcare professionals surveyed, chosen for their interest in healthcare innovation and AI, had never been involved in the development or deployment of an AI solution.

Dr Angela Spatharou, partner at McKinsey & Company, and report co-author comments: “AI has enormous potential to improve productivity and efficiency in health systems and make them more sustainable – but more importantly, it has the potential to deliver better health outcomes for patients.

“It can do so in many ways, from enabling more preventive care, to allowing healthcare practitioners to spend more time on direct patient care. This joint report provides guidance for decision-makers to define their level of aspiration on AI and develop and implement the right approach for their organisation or health system.”

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