Many people I know look gloomy facing the COVID-19 aftershock. Before the COVID-19, talks with investors made it clear that they would be investing 40% more in AI startups. However, currently, many are reporting a drop in investments. When this is over, and it will, who will come out on top? In the past, many investors were reluctant to invest in healthcare startups. I recall at one accelerator the meeting started like this: Aerospace and Medical startups can leave, we are not going to invest. Talk about wasting a day.
A few years later, AI has sprung into life (though it has always been here), and many healthcare startups came to be. Were there that many? Were they successful when exiting? Difficult to say. Everyone dealing with hospitals knows how difficult it can be. The COVID-19, though, just proved how essential it is to have advanced technologies at the ready. When people cannot get to a hospital or health center for non-life threatening situations, I believe healthcare organizations will now pay a lot closer attention to these technologies. Even more importantly, the rate of adoption will increase.
Looking for some information about the future of AI in healthcare, I stumbled on a report (which can be accessed here: Report) from March 2019, way pre-corona. Here are the key findings from the report and my take on them:
- “Recent industry analysis indicates notable acceleration in the adoption of AI over the next 24 months”. Like duh! If you are living in 2020, you are probably convinced that AI automation has much potential to support healthcare professionals.
- “The majority of healthcare … increasing investments in AI and advanced analytics” – Obviously, now that they are going to get a lot more funding from governments, they will be looking for where to spend it. That could be you.
- “Improving clinical outcomes, advancing digital transformation and improving operational and clinical performance are the priorities driving investment in AI.” – no change here, just more and more.
- “The lack of healthcare … funding … the biggest impediments to moving AI initiatives forward … cultural impediments, including lack of trust, skills and knowledge, also hamper adoption.” – This is it – the big problem. I predict funding will increase so less “impediments,” and the trust is earned. I think that home devices just proved to be essential when you don’t have physical access to a family doctor. What more proof do you need?
I won’t repeat their recommendations since they will probably change after the crisis. However, I can say that you can deduce it for yourself. Anything that worked in COVID-19 will be in higher demand after COVID-19. Areas such as robotic and remote care, digital transformation for renewing prescriptions and any self-service method. Even 3D printers may be back. Home sensors and self-health checks. Even home-schooling technologies for healthcare professional kids may be a thing now, who knows. So keep going!