Artificial intelligence heralds a new phase of the automation era. In order to succeed with AI in healthcare, providers should be prepared to cope with important challenges in this new, technology-driven environment. As tech and automation will greatly influence the way people work, healthcare organisations and policymakers must address education, skills development, and workplace culture, according to a new report from Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.

As highlighted in the report, the advent of AI can be viewed as both beneficial and disruptive. While the robots are coming, the report says, "they will bring neither an apocalypse nor utopia, but instead both benefits and stress alike.” In their analysis, report authors found that workers with college education or higher will likely face less disruption from increased automation.

The authors said jobs in any industry that requires a bachelor’s degree or more will have an automation potential of just 24 percent. By comparison, jobs requiring less than a bachelor’s degree have an automation potential of 55 percent. In thehealthcare industry, the report notes, there is an automation potential of 36 percent, with healthcare practitioners and technical occupations seeing an automation potential of 33 percent over the next few decades. “While our analysis shows that the next phase of the automation era may not be as dystopian as the most dire voices claim, plenty of people and places will be affected, and much will need to be done to mitigate the coming stresses,” according to Brookings researchers.

To manage the changes that will come with AI and automation, the authors suggest that academic institutions, as well as healthcareorganisations and entities of other industries, should take a new approach to learning and skill development. New methods of education and learning will need to start within organisations, the authors point out. “Change will most naturally and urgently begin within companies, where firms and their existing workers will mutually experience the need for skills changes.

An important starting point will be to increase the prevalence of employer-led training,” the report said, adding that employer-led training can improve productivity, enhance workers’ career prospects, and help companies fill emerging critical needs. Other recommendations by the report authors include:

  • Governments should incentivise on-the-job training and tuition assistance, which will help establish an environment of lifelong learning and skill development
  • Academic institutions and training centres should refine and scale up their technology and coding education efforts. Curricula in computer science and related fields should strengthen course offerings in "hard-core" tech fields like computer, data, and cognitive science
  • It's important for healthcare stakeholders to create a culture that embraces technology-based growth

To promote this kind of culture, federal leaders should develop initiatives that will support the development of innovative technologies, which will drive productivity growth. Further, the authors call on the federal government to increase research and development funding on AI, automation, and associated technologies in order to ensure that technology develops effectively and humanely. They wrote: "“Also critical are urgent investments in the development of effective human-AI collaboration; humane and ethical automation and AI; and the legal and societal implications of these technologies.”

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