The AI Workforce Imperative: How the Pandemic is Changing Healthcare AI Investments

The AI workforce imperative: How the pandemic is changing healthcare AI investments

It’s no question – COVID-19 has shaken the healthcare system. Organizations have had to rapidly shift gears and start planning for a future that looks very different from the past. What role will AI play in this new world?

For many healthcare leaders, the pandemic has only highlighted the need for enterprise AI – or an AI workforce – in order to drive rapid impact and ensure financial survival. Olive and HFMA dove into this issue in a recent whitepaper, discussing with various healthcare leaders across the country how their investment strategies for AI and automation have changed due to the pandemic. Here’s just a taste of what we heard:

Healthcare organizations need a comprehensive AI approach

Individual workflow solutions aren’t enough to maximize the potential of AI on the tailwinds of COVID-19, and healthcare organizations have realized that. Leaders are now looking at how AI and automation fit into their overall plan, and how AI can impact their entire enterprise. A comprehensive AI and digital technology strategy makes it easier and faster to make decisions regarding AI investment and prioritize opportunities based on impact and organization needs.

For health systems that had already invested in AI and automation prior to the pandemic, the benefits were clear and significant. For example, OSF HealthCare had a systemwide strategy for digital innovation, including a chatbot, nurse hotline, and remote monitoring program all powered by automation and AI. Within days of the pandemic, these tools had been revamped to help improve their COVID-19 response.

“Without some of the digital tools that we had invested in before the pandemic, we wouldn’t be able to respond digitally on such a large scale — and that would’ve had a negative impact on our facilities as well as our communities.” – Jennifer Junis, RUN, MSN, senior vice president, OSF HealthCare Saint Gabriel Digital Health.

AI readiness varies by organization, but in order to compete in the post-pandemic world, all healthcare leaders should be thinking about their digital strategy and how AI and automation fit into that vision.

What health systems are looking for in an AI partner

The right partner is crucial to AI success, but organizations have different approaches to picking a company to work with to deploy AI and automation. As a whole, AI-as-a-service is the preferred model for AI implementation, with 43% of healthcare leaders most likely to choose one company to build, deliver, monitor, and support automations when making an AI or RPA purchase1. Other factors cited were healthcare expertise and the ability to quickly add value.

“Speed to insight has always been a big factor for us in choosing an AI partner” – Mark Jackson, director of business intelligence for Piedmont Healthcare

We know how important quick wins are to gaining internal buy-in to initiate AI investment or maintain AI momentum with expanded presence; that’s why Olive guides organizations with where to start with AI, by scoping processes and identifying which are the highest value plus quickest speed to impact.

Evaluating AI’s impact & speed to value

With increasing financial pressure related to lost revenue and rising costs it’s more important than ever to be able to measure and clearly show your AI investment’s ROI and value. To do so, you need to first clearly identify your goals and desired outcomes, and then measure against those goals. While strategic goals vary, a recent study found that nearly three-in-four healthcare executives ranked improving efficiency and reducing costs among their top three priorities. Leaders should also evaluate how an AI solution has impacted staff and workflows.

“The majority of our time needs to be [spent] on practical, pragmatic AI opportunities that leaders across the organization agree are problems that we need to solve.” – Greg Nelson, associate vice president for analytics, Intermountain Healthcare

At Olive, we recently announced Apertures, Olive’s real-time data visualization and performance management tool. One of the metrics Apertures displays is Olive’s current ROI and accelerated total value, so your organization always knows exactly how your AI investment is performing at any given time.

Get the full story on how healthcare leaders are thinking about AI

Artificial intelligence has long been touted as the future of healthcare – and the future has finally arrived. COVID-19 has accelerated organizations’ need for end-to-end AI solutions throughout the enterprise, proving how important these advanced automation and machine learning solutions are to thrive in the post-pandemic environment. As you think about implementing AI at your healthcare organization, don’t miss these insights from other health systems. Get the full white paper here.


  1. Sage Growth Partners Research Study: The Value of AI, 2020

Investing for Enterprise Impact Whitepaper

A Healthcare Executive's Guide to AI Workforce Models

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