European health and care systems face a number of challenges linked to the ageing of the population and an increase in the prevalence of chronic conditions. With budget constraints, the health and care systems face rising cost pressures for systems and problems of sustainability. There is a consensus that health systems need to undergo adaption if they are to adequately respond to future population health needs.
New digital technologies will play a role in transforming health and care systems. In particular, artificial intelligence and robotics, have the potential to transform health and care facilities across their range of functions from the clinical aspects (screening and prevention, diagnosis, treatment, surgical support) to organisational and logistical aspects (such as the management and distribution of medicines and wider supplies across the facility). Given that health facilities such as hospitals consume the major proportion of resources available to health and care budgets, efficiency gains in these facilities may support sustainability of the system as a whole.
Innovative AI based systems (robotics, big data, machine learning, autonomous systems, conversational agents, etc.) have shown considerable promise so far, however their effective use in the delivery of health and care depends on their successful integration (and acceptation) within existing health and care facilities such as hospitals, primary care centres and care homes.
Therefore, piloting at scale is needed to prove the transformative impact of AI. Pilots need to be embedded in operational health and care settings and built around well specified open physical and digital platforms that are able to demonstrate operational and economic benefits sufficient to justify wider uptake by health and care policy makers.
AI in this context has the potential to deliver integrated physical and digital services that address a wide range of healthcare applications, for example in patient care, diagnosis, treatment and in hospital based laboratory and support services. Ethical, privacy and trust aspects should be addressed, as appropriate.