PwC research: A third of West Midlands patients are willing to have major invasive surgery performed by AI

Ali Breadon

New research by YouGov for PwC has found that almost a third (28%) of patients in the West Midlands would be willing to have major invasive surgery performed by AI.

Across the UK, men are significantly more willing than women – 39% compared to 22%. However, older people , the over 55s, are much more sceptical at just 24%.

But despite the AI hype, there’s still work to be done in healthcare to build trust among West Midlands  patients in this type of technology – 1 in 4 people can’t see the benefits of using AI in healthcare at all.

The main concerns expressed by patients in the region were that AI lacks the ‘human touch’, and the human ability to look beyond data, and include context when making treatment choices – this demonstrates the importance UK patients place upon their relationship with medical professionals.

However patients noted that the top three advantages of using AI in health would be:

  • Healthcare would be quicker and easier to access.
  • AI would be able to access and analyse more information than a human and therefore diagnosis would be much faster and accurate.
  • And with the above in mind, that better treatment recommendations would be made.

Whilst the results show AI has a part to play in monitoring heartbeat rhythms and heart conditions, with the majority of people in the West Midlands being willing to receive these treatments from an advanced computer, people are least willing to consider technology being used to set broken bones, monitor and advise during pregnancy and stitch and bandage wounds.  

Ali Breadon, government and health industries leader for PwC in the Midlands, said:

“If only a proportion of the UK population start to use more services delivered through technology, that could begin to make big savings. This could, in turn, make a serious contribution to addressing the huge financial challenges facing the health system in the UK.”

Even though many patients are sceptical, the fact that nearly four in 10 would be willing to engage with technology in their healthcare experience signals a huge opportunity to transform healthcare delivery for the benefit of patients in the UK. Closer examination reveals significant potential in the UK market:

  • The younger the demographic group, the more likely they are to see new health technologies in a positive light.
  • Well over half of 18 to 24 year olds would be willing to engage with AI and robotics to take care of some of their health needs.

Sudheer Parwana, technology leader for PwC in the Midlands, added:

“With the younger demographic more open to using new technologies in their healthcare we need to seize the opportunity to prepare for a generation that will be more willing to engage with AI.  Although this shift may come in time we are starting to see a steady increase in the number of people willing to engage with AI and robotics to take care of some of their health.”

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