Middle East well-placed to lead development of AI in healthcare says PwC

17 January 2019 Consultancy-me.com 2 min. read

The Middle East region is well-placed as a potential world leader on artificial intelligence research & development for the healthcare sector says PwC, with the public in approval.

The findings of a new global survey report on digital healthcare transformations released by PwC have prompted the firm to suggest the Middle East is uniquely positioned as a possible international leader and hub for artificial intelligence research & development in the sector. Notably, the willingness of the Middle Eastern public to engage with AI in the healthcare system was greater than anywhere else.

The report – ‘From Virtual to Reality: Six imperatives for becoming an AI-ready healthcare business’ – examined global and regional use cases of AI implementation in the healthcare sector across the areas of leadership and culture, ethics and confidentiality, clinical effectiveness, workforce transformation, and public readiness and regulation, stitching together a roadmap for a successful AI adoption.

From a regional perspective, although almost two thirds of the public and private sector healthcare leaders interviewed from the Middle East believe that AI will have a major impact on their businesses in the coming ten years, fewer than ten percent have begun pursuing the matter – findings which accord with a broader recent BCG study on positive AI perspectives but stalling implementations in the region.Business Impact vs Implementation

The slow level of activity places local healthcare businesses far behind those in Europe. Yet, another aspect of the study revealed that the Middle Eastern public is considerably more open and at an increasing rate to engage with an AI-driven healthcare system than respondents in Europe and elsewhere – creating an approximate 50 percent gap between public readiness and business readiness in the region.

For PwC, the widespread public acceptance provides a compelling opportunity; “With regulators actively working on developing governance and regulatory frameworks that can facilitate the application and implementation of AI for healthcare businesses, PwC’s view is that the Middle East is in a unique position to lead the development of international standards and become a hub for AI research and development.”

But more still needs to be done, says the firm, beginning with leadership and culture. The report further identifies the traits of AI-ready leaders, including strategic thinking and foresight, the ability to simplify complexity and create a roadmap which connects all parts of an organisation, and being technologically aware while not losing sight of the need for compassion and emotional intelligence as a fundamental pillar of healthcare.

“AI has the potential to revolutionise every aspect of the healthcare sector,” says PwC Middle East Health Industries Consulting Leader Hamish Clark. “The economic benefits are clear and the technology is already here. However, there is a significant implementation challenge which requires new skills and strong leadership. Disruption to traditional healthcare delivery models is now happening at pace.”