Healthcare in Europe is reaching a point where major changes are becoming increasingly necessary. The sector is facing several challenges that may affect the quality of healthcare in hospitals and clinics. Examples include insufficient medical staff, a growing number of elderly people requiring more care, rising costs and the need to smoothly integrate technology into healthcare practices. In 2024, we will see new and exciting developments as Artificial Intelligence (AI) takes on a larger role in healthcare. Now let’s explore how AI can transform the healthcare industry!

Healthcare challenges

Before delving further into how AI can potentially transform healthcare, we will first outline the reasons why change is needed within the industry:

  • Staff shortages: A resilient healthcare system relies heavily on its workforce. Currently, there’s a substantial gap with a shortage of 2 million healthcare professionals in Europe. This issue was highlighted by the OECD, emphasizing the critical need for more hands and minds in healthcare.
  • Aging population: With people living longer and the number of those aged 65 and above set to constitute a quarter of Europe’s population by 2050, the demand for healthcare is expected to increase, especially for long-term care.
  • Rising costs: Healthcare expenses are on the rise, and so is the cost of health insurance. Healthcare is also one of the largest items in the national budgets across European countries.
  • Internet of Things (IoT): Everything today is connected to the Internet; the connectivity offered by the IoT, including sensors in hospitals, is becoming unmissable.
  • Digitalization: The digital transformation of healthcare is about integrating digital technology into all aspects of healthcare. From initial patient intake to treatment and aftercare, the goal is to make processes digitally seamless, improving efficiency and quality of care.

How can AI bring changes to the healthcare sector?

In response to these challenges, artificial intelligence (AI) emerges as a crucial force for change:

1. Improved diagnostics

  • Higher diagnostic precision: AI leverages machine learning models that provide high accuracy, enabling the detection of diseases with details that might be missed by the human eye. This precision can lead to earlier and more accurate diagnoses, which is crucial for effective treatment.
  • Faster, smarter analysis: AI algorithms can process and analyze complex medical data much faster than traditional methods. This means that the time it takes to diagnose can be significantly reduced, from hours down to minutes, allowing for quicker decision-making in patient care.

2. Operational efficiencies

  • Smoothing out processes: AI streamlines various healthcare operations, from scheduling appointments to managing patient records. This helps to save time and resources, allowing healthcare personnel to concentrate on providing care and enhancing the patient experience.
  • Economic savings: By optimizing resource allocation, predicting equipment failures, and reducing operational costs, AI contributes to making healthcare services more affordable, which is beneficial for both providers and patients.

3. Data-driven decisions

  • Informed healthcare strategies: AI analyzes vast quantities of healthcare data to uncover trends and inform policy decisions, leading to a more data-driven healthcare system.
  • Improvement through insights: AI systems are capable of continuous learning from real-world data, which can lead to improved medical practices and the development of innovative treatment protocols.

4. Transparency

  • Transparent AI: With the push for explainable AI, developers and data scientists are ensuring that AI decisions can be understood and trusted by patients and healthcare providers.
  • Building trust: Explainable models foster confidence in AI systems, ensuring that the technology is an accountable and reliable partner in healthcare delivery.

Closing thoughts

AI addresses some of the pressing challenges in healthcare by improving diagnostic accuracy, streamlining operational processes, facilitating data-driven decision-making and improving transparency and trust through transparent AI. It is therefore crucial that AI experts and medical professionals work closely together. This synergy is essential to create sustainable AI solutions in healthcare that are not only innovative but also practical, ethical and valuable to all stakeholders.

You can explore our client success stories where we’ve implemented AI solutions in the healthcare sector, including:

This blog is written in collaboration with Roel van Reij – Medical Intelligence expert at Mediaan Conclusion