Microsoft: Generative AI can deliver up to $13B value to Australia’s healthcare sector

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A new report points out that the Australian healthcare sector can potentially unlock billions of dollars in value from generative AI if it can accelerate its responsible adoption.

Titled Australia’s Generative AI Opportunity, the report by Microsoft and Tech Council of Australia, the peak body representing the country’s technology sector delves into potential economic opportunities from the adoption of generative AI across prime sectors, including healthcare.

WHY IT MATTERS

Depending on the speed of adoption, the healthcare sector can reap between $5 billion and $13 billion in value from generative AI each year by 2030, based on the report. 

The key driver to this is generative AI’s ability:

  • to allow one-on-one patient care by reducing time spent on administrative tasks – it is said that generative AI can automate a quarter of nursing tasks;

  • to enable more personalised care by being embedded in wearable devices; and 

  • to support the transition towards more proactive models of care by allowing earlier diagnosis at scale – most Australians have been reported to take an interest in using digital self-service for pre-visit tasks.

However, to realise these benefits, the sector must maintain patient confidentiality and safety with “robust” protocols. 

“[T]o fully capture this opportunity, healthcare organisations and professionals will need to adopt generative AI swiftly, while continuing to ensure the personalised care, safety and privacy of patients,” Tech Council of Australia CEO Kate Pounder stressed.

THE LARGER TREND

Aside from healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and professional and financial services are also poised to benefit from generative AI, which can contribute up to $115 billion in value to Australia’s overall economy by the end of the decade by improving these industries and enabling the creation of new products and services.

It just needs deeper collaboration to capture these economic benefits by leveraging its comparative advantages in digital technology, including its large and highly-skilled workforce, strong investment in digital infrastructure, and a high level of cloud computing adoption. 

However, based on the report, Australia is facing barriers to gaining these benefits in four areas: technology capability, enterprise readiness, awareness and skills, and responsible AI. The report offers strategic actions to address these issues, including defining the opportunity and vision for generative AI, assessing readiness, incentivising adoption and innovation, upskilling the workforce, and developing responsible AI governance frameworks.

Meanwhile, early this year, the chief innovation officer of the Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre, AI ethicist Stefan Harrer, came up with a paper that proposes for the first time a comprehensive ethical framework for the responsible use, design, and governance of generative AI applications in healthcare and medicine, published in The Lancet’s eBioMedicine journal.

ON THE RECORD

“With generative AI, Australia is well-positioned to take the lead in the efficient delivery of healthcare services… The country has an incredible opportunity to harness generative AI’s true potential and continually elevate our reputation as having one of the world’s best healthcare systems. This technology can also help Australia overcome some of the existing challenges in the sector, including staff shortages and patient waitlists,” Pounder further exclaimed.

“Microsoft is committed to fostering closer collaboration between industry and government to ensure the nation can realise the potential economic benefits of generative AI, and do so responsibly. Building trust in this technology is critical to harnessing its innovative capabilities and enabling Australia to become a global leader in this space,” Microsoft ANZ CTO Lee Hickin also commented.

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