Healthcare AI May Already Be Reducing Physician Burnout

New research suggests that AI may already be offering – or at least seems well-positioned to offer—help with reducing physician burnout levels in addition to freeing up some of their time.­ The survey, which reached out to more than 900 healthcare professionals,  was conducted by MIT Technology Review Insights in partnership with GE Healthcare.

According to the survey report, 72% of respondents said they were interested in implementing AI, with 79% telling researchers that their organization planned to increase their budget for AI applications, followed by 20% who plan to hold their AI spending steady and a scant 1% that anticipate decreasing their budget for such efforts.

It also noted that 74% of institutions represented in the survey were developing or planned to develop AI application algorithms, followed by 13% who weren’t sure of their plans and 13% who had no current development on the horizon.

When it came to specific application types, the most popular was the automation of EHRs using natural language processing tools, which 43% said they’d adopted and 20% planned to do so. This was followed by patient data and risk analytics (41% adopted, 21% planning), AI for predictive analytics (40%, 23%) AI for patient flow optimization (39%, 26%) and AI-enabled wearables (31%, 28%).

Respondents also showed interest in chatbots (32%, 19%), AI-enabled screening of diseases/conditions (26%, 31%), automated medical condition diagnosis (26%, 30%), use of AI-enabled dosage error reduction systems (26%, 29%), predictive health trackers (27%, 27%), AI for personalized healthcare plans (28%, 24%), virtual nursing assistants (25%, 29%), AI-assisted endoscopy (24%, 21%), surgical analytics (23%, 23%), robot-assisted surgery (22%, 24%) and AI-based analytics for mental health (21%, 27%).

Adoption, however, comes at a price, with the integration of AI applications into existing systems proving a challenge for 57% of respondents. Also, one-half of respondents said they were concerned about medical professional adoption, support from top management and technical support of AI technology.

Nonetheless, their efforts seem to be bearing fruit, with 78% of medical staffers telling the researchers that AI deployments had already improved workflow within their organization. In addition, 75% of medical staff whose organizations had AI tools in place said that it had made better predictions possible in the treatment of disease.

Not only that, 79% of respondents said that AI had helped ward off burnout among healthcare workers. One-third of medical staff with pilot AI programs in place reported spending less time writing reports, and those whose institutions had extensive AI programs in place spent two-thirds of the time.  In addition, 45% of survey respondents said that AI had increased both consultation time and time to perform surgery and other procedures, and 60% of medical staff with AI tools available to them expected to spend more time performing procedures rather than non-clinical work.

To cap it all, respondents using AI reported spending 37% more of their time leading and mentoring junior staffers, while business staff who had AI tools available reported having 30% more time available to spend attracting new patients and meeting with patients’ families.

The survey also found that 80% of business and administrative pros believed that AI was helping to improve revenue opportunities and that 81% felt that AI will make them more competitive providers.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

1 Comment

  • Can you post the data used by the study to justify these conclusions–basic things such as how the survey was distributed, where answers came from, and the exact questions posed? I have been searching for that information without success.

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