Philips Future Health Index Report: AI to Cut Waiting Times

Philips global headquarters, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (Credit: Philips)
Healthcare technology leader Philips says virtual care and AI is turning in an effort to cope with demand in its Future Health Index Report 2024

Royal Philips has released the findings of its Future Health Index 2024 report, titled "Better Care for More People." The ninth annual global report reveals a significant shift among healthcare leaders toward virtual care and AI-enabled innovations to help mitigate the challenges of workforce shortages, financial pressures, and increasing demand for services.

It  explores the growing reliance on technological advancements to enhance patient care and streamline healthcare operations, as healthcare leaders grapple with ways to deliver efficiency under huge demand. The FHI 2024 report is based on research among 3,000 healthcare leaders conducted across 14 different countries.

“Increasingly, we’re seeing long wait times and staff shortages making it difficult for people to access timely care when and where needed. The Future Health Index 2024 global findings show health leaders believe these barriers to access to quality care are getting larger,” said Shez Partovi, Chief Innovation & Strategy Officer at Philips. “This year’s report shows how innovations including AI are helping to free up time for staff and reduce wait times for patients. However, as health systems roll out AI tools to save time and reduce barriers to care, it’s critical to bring staff along on the journey to ensure an inclusive AI rollout with patient and clinician experience is at the forefront.”

Health Leadership and AI 

The 2023 version of the report indicated plans for AI investments; the 2024 findings show that AI for clinical decision support is already being used for in-hospital patient monitoring by 43% of healthcare leaders, with further investments planned over the next three years.

The report further  reveals that a significant majority (85%) of healthcare leaders are either currently investing in or planning to invest in generative AI technologies. These investments are expected to drive advancements in patient care and operational efficiency, underscoring the growing reliance on AI to address challenges in the healthcare industry.

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Staff shortages in healthcare

The report highlights that nearly two-thirds (66%) of healthcare leaders are witnessing a surge in burnout, stress, and mental health issues among their staff, along with deteriorating work-life balance and decreased morale and engagement.

Staff shortages contribute  to significant delays in care, with more than three-quarters (77%) of healthcare leaders expressing concerns. These shortages are leading to increased waiting lists for appointments (60%), longer waiting times for treatments or procedures (57%), and delayed or limited access to screening, diagnosis, and preventive care (54%). The findings emphasise the urgent need for innovative solutions to address growing challenges in the healthcare sector.

"The results of the FHI Report and the three  critical gaps identified align perfectly with the challenges I face in my clinical practice each day. The staffing gap is the most concerning aspect as it has a direct negative impact on patient care. As health leaders, we need to focus on increasing the adoption of digital technologies to improve efficiency and reduce the workload. However  it will not happen without engaging with healthcare professionals  and them embracing and adopting  these  technologies,” said Prof. Dr. Chiara Bucciarelli-Ducci, cardiologist and CEO of the Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance (SCMR), London, UK.

Philips Future Health Index Report graphic (Credit Philips)

Automation in healthcare

Currently, automation primarily reduces administrative burdens, but 41% of healthcare leaders plan to extend its use to workflow prioritisation. Virtual care is  making a significant impact, with 89% of leaders reporting that it helps alleviate staffing shortages. Additionally, more than half (54%) note that virtual care improves staff satisfaction by enabling flexible work schedules and creating new career opportunities.

Patients benefit  from advancements in remote monitoring, which enhances their experience and reduces the strain on hospital staff. Looking ahead, healthcare leaders are planning to expand remote patient monitoring into areas such as telestroke care (40%), maternal and foetal health (36%), and postoperative monitoring (35%) within the next three years. These technological innovations are poised to play a pivotal role in addressing the ongoing challenges facing healthcare systems globally.

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