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UnitedHealth, Optum Survey Shows AI Adoption Is Growing More Popular in Health Care

Results from the second OptumIQ survey of 500 US health professionals found that confidence and investment in artificial intelligence (AI) to improve health care is growing exponentially and that funding AI-related projects has also increased.

Optum and UnitedHealth Group compared data from the most recent survey results to 2018 and found that an increased 88% number of respondents “who said their organizations have a strategy in place and have implemented AI.” 

Among those surveyed were professionals from from hospitals, health plans, life sciences, and employers who wereasked about their attitudes and adoption of the technology.

“Nine in 10 leaders are confident they will see a return on investment in AI sooner than previously expected; half say in less than 3 years. They also expect to invest more —an average industry net increase of $7.3 million compared with 2018,” the companies stated in the press release.

“These findings validate that AI is vital to holistically transform health care. It’s encouraging to see executives’ growing trust in, and adoption of, AI to make data more actionable in making the health system work better for everyone,” said Dan Schumacher, president and chief operating officer of Optum.

The most recent survey also found that companies expect see a positive return on investment sooner than expected. Fifty percent of respondents believe they will see cost savings in just 3 years, compared to 31% in 2018.

Other findings from the survey include increased implementation and higher levels of trust in AI for administrative applications.

In fact, the survey results emphasized AI as the most pragmatic solution for nonclinical applications in a health care setting. According to the press release, the five areas in which organizations see AI having the most potential are:

  • 51% to automate prior authorizations;     
  • 47% to provide individuals with relevant health actions using personalized communications;
  • 45% to manage electronic health records;
  • 43% to detect fraud, waste, or abuse in reimbursement; and
  • 38% to select appropriate care settings.

AI is also expected to create more employment opportunities and drive job growth, despite what many would believe. The drive to include more AI in health care settings means more training, new roles, and new partnerships.

“In order to transform and modernize the US health system through the power of AI, it is critical that organizations invest in developing talent throughout the enterprise to solve health care’s most complex challenges,” said Steve Griffiths, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Optum Enterprise Analytics. —Edan Stanley

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