Asia Pacific ahead of the curve in using data, AI, analytics in healthcare: Philips report
Healthcare leaders throughout the Asia Pacific (Apac) region are looking to data and predictive technologies as the foundations of their future healthcare systems, the Philips Future Health Index (FHI) 2022 report revealed.
The report outlined data and staffing challenges for healthcare in Apac, as the region's sector will lead the charge for data, AI, and predictive analytics.
The seventh FHI report, under the theme “Healthcare hits reset: Priorities shift as healthcare leaders navigate a changed world”, was prepared by Royal Philips, a global leader in health technology.
The findings of the report, which were released on Tuesday, look at how healthcare leaders are leveraging the power of data and digital technology to address the pandemic's key challenges.
The report is based on proprietary research conducted in 15 countries, including Singapore, Australia, Indonesia, and Thailand, with nearly 3,000 respondents.
One finding in the report suggests that there are significant challenges in realising this goal.
Caroline Clarke, CEO and executive vice president of Philips Asean Pacific, said during the report's release that after a tough two years, the FHI 2022 report showed Apac's healthcare leaders were ahead of the curve when it came to championing the potential of data, AI, and predictive analytics technology.
"Ultimately, the value of data and technology is only as strong as the human experience it supports, and it's vital that our approach to digital transformation is centred around people," she explained. "To that end, breaking down data silos and supporting staff training and education is critical to ensuring that these ambitions, including improving staff retention, can be accomplished and the region's desired health outcomes are achieved."
According to the report, Apac's healthcare leaders are global leaders in recognising the value of data to their organisations.
It reveals that 82% of leaders agree the value of data to their facility is worth the time and resources invested, putting them on par with the US and significantly ahead of the global and European averages of 65% and 60%, respectively.
Notably, Singapore's healthcare system outperforms other global counterparts (65%) in terms of data value (91%), with Indonesia (82%) and Australia (75%) also placing a premium on it.
Meanwhile, confidence in data usage is high in Apac, with the majority of healthcare leaders reporting that they can extract actionable insights from available data (85%), have access to the necessary technology to use data (84%), and believe in the high level of data accuracy in their facilities (82%).
The Apac countries are also in agreement on the importance of investing in AI and predictive analytics over the next three years.
According to the findings, 55% of Apac healthcare leaders are already investing heavily in AI, and 82% believe it will become a top investment area within the next three years.
When it comes to how they intend to use AI, clinical decision support is the top investment priority (35%). In terms of priorities, using AI to predict outcomes (34%), and integrating diagnostics (33%), are close behind.
However, significant areas of improvement remain in realising the ambition of using data, AI and predictive analytics as key enablers of future healthcare systems, the report said.
While recognition of the value of data and its importance in clinical decision support is widespread in Apac, current knowledge and awareness of how to use data to inform decision-making is still lacking and widely disparate, the report stated.
Data silos are cited as a barrier to effective data use by 73% of Apac healthcare leaders, far exceeding the global average of 51%.
Other significant barriers include technical infrastructure limitations (23%), data privacy and security concerns (21%), data policy and regulations (21%), staff resistance to using upgraded or more advanced technologies (20%), a lack of clarity on legal liability (20%), and difficulties managing large amounts of data (20%).
Meanwhile, in Apac, workforce resistance, skill and knowledge gaps are cited as major barriers to data utilisation. According to the report, 74% of the region's healthcare leaders are overwhelmed by the volume of data available today, which is significantly higher than the global average of 55%.
One-fifth of those polled believe that staff training and education are some of the best ways to help their facility do more with data.
Respondents also mentioned that collaborating with other ecosystem players could be one way to address some of these issues.
Another interesting finding from the report is that extending care delivery beyond existing facilities remains a priority for healthcare leaders in Apac today and in the future.
Realising this shift, 45% of Apac healthcare leaders and 49% of Asean healthcare leaders are currently investing heavily in telehealth. Remote patient monitoring solutions are also being considered as a viable option for expanding access to care beyond existing facilities.
At least 19% of Apac leaders and 21% of Asean leaders say investing in them is a top priority right now, and 26% say it will become even more important in the near future.
Royal Philips said it valued Thailand’s efforts to improve its healthcare system through advanced technology.
Thailand, according to Clarke, is yet another country that recognises the importance of artificial intelligence technology, which has been widely discussed since 2019.
AI development is being considered as part of national development strategies, and it has been implemented as part of Thailand's medical system services, she said.
She praised the Thai Public Health Ministry's proposed agenda, “The Future of Thailand towards Holistic Wellness Care and Advanced Health Promotion 2023-2027”, as part of the 13th National Economic and Social Development Plan.
This strategy focuses on artificial intelligence, health prediction, and digital technology as essential elements for healthcare facilities and advanced health promotion. It aims to improve healthcare system capability and people's access to care through accurate health technology.
In addition, the government has set the goal of converting hospitals and healthcare facilities into Smart Hospitals in order to reduce staff workload and improve patient experiences.
According to Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health, by the fourth quarter of 2021, more than 45% of healthcare units in Thailand had already been converted into smart hospitals.
Although much progress has been made since then, the FHI report suggests that more conditions, particularly skilled labour training, must be created in Thailand and other Apac countries in order to achieve the goal.
Philips has conducted original research since 2016 to assist countries in determining their readiness to address global health challenges and build efficient and effective health systems, the company said.