Why the Effort to Recover Financially in 2023 Must Include Healthcare AI

Health systems are facing a challenging uphill battle. In the last year alone, hospital losses amounted to billions while facing a healthcare labor shortage that presents its own set of challenges to bottom lines.

Given the unprecedented scale of such obstacles, healthcare providers are scrambling to find ways to curtail their losses. And the pressure is on. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, the last decade has shown a rapid acceleration of technological development, which is now offering hope for a financial recovery in healthcare from an exhaustive pandemic—of which its utterance invokes immediate exhaustion and an eye roll. But yes, the pandemic did take health systems backwards after years of revenue success.

Challenging Fiscal Realities

Amongst the immense fiscal challenges facing providers today, hospital leaders are confronted by truly daunting financial realities:

An aging population on Medicare or Medicaid means lower reimbursement. Inflation combined with increased interest rates makes it more difficult not only to grow, but to sustain. Decreased patient volumes means less revenue opportunities. These problems coalesce to create a seemingly unbeatable challenge for hospital leaders and administrators. 

How Healthcare AI Provides an ROI

Healthcare AI has clinically proven its ability to help alleviate cost burdens on hospitals and provide an ROI, including: 

  • A clinical study at Cedars-Sinai saw a reduced length of stay for PE and ICH patients by 26.3% and 11.9%, respectively, after integrating AI into the radiology workflow. This suggests that triaging patients with AI can help reduce time to treatment, therefore sending patients home sooner while freeing up beds. 
  • Patient volumes are likely to return to normal levels, including outpatient procedures. This is where the ability for AI to triage can play a crucial role in reducing operational inefficiencies. A University of Chicago case study demonstrated the ability of AI to reduce turnaround time for addressing ICH cases in an outpatient center by 90 percent.

Limitations and High Costs of Labor

The aforementioned financial difficulties have a trickling effect in the labor market, and hospitals are far from immune. With inflation comes an increase in cost of labor. Add the fact that 61% of physicians said administrative and bureaucratic tasks are the leading cause of burnout and you can see how quality of care (and reimbursements) can be jeopardized.

“Physician burnout was associated with double the risk of patient safety incidents compared with no patient safety incidents based on measures of overall burnout… Burnout was also associated with up to threefold decreases in patient satisfaction compared with patients being satisfied based on measures of overall burnout.”

Source: BMJ

How Healthcare AI Addresses Labor Shortages

Care coordination for acute cases can delay patient care by tens of minutes or even hours, and it goes double for burnt out workers. With a tool like AI, the limitations of inefficient manual processes can be overcome, saving precious hospital resources and improving patient experiences.

There are several reasons we remain optimistic for the future of AI as a tool for augmenting physicians and thus, mak:

  • There is a will to integrate new technologies in hospitals. A McDermott, Will & Emery report on the healthcare climate for 2023 showed anticipation for greater investment in innovation to “create new revenue streams for health systems by allocating capital[…]to promising early-stage companies.”
  • Health systems can introduce AI into multiple clinical workflows across a hospital to maximize efficiency, including in the hub-and-spoke model, potentially generating savings on a broader scale.

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