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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

UK most sceptical EMEA country regarding robotics in healthcare

British patients are the most sceptical in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) when it comes to having robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) involved in their healthcare, according to report by PwC.

Technology could transform healthcare ©Shutterstock

It reveals that 55% of consumers across these regions would be willing to use the technology to answer health questions, perform tests, make diagnosis and recommend treatment, rather than human doctors.

However, this varies across countries, with just 39% of UK patients happy to do so, in contrast with 94% in Nigeria, despite the technology having the potential to transform healthcare delivery, making it more accurate, accessible and faster.

PwC healthcare partner, Brian Pomering, said: “While taken at face value it appears UK patients are most sceptical about the use of AI and robotics in healthcare, closer examination reveals a significant potential market.

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

The PwC report is based on a survey of over 11,000 people from 12 countries across the EMEA, finding that 73% of respondents would be happy for a robot to perform a minor surgical procedure.

Again, the UK was found to be the least willing to have such procedures using the technology, with British patients also the most reluctant to have major surgery using it, although men, and the younger demographic are more open-minded.

Another theme identified through the research was emerging markets, where healthcare is still in its infancy, were more likely to be willing to engage with robotics and AI than in developed economies.

“Those countries that are still on the path of establishing widespread healthcare systems or universal access have shown a high willingness to engage with advanced technologies to fill the gaps in care delivery,” the PwC report said.

“But there is risk. AI and robotics as the foundation for healthcare access, capacity and capability will either be transformational or doomed, depending upon the implementation.

“Currently we see the potential but don’t yet have the evidence that AI and robotics will fulfill their promise. Building flexibility into developing new systems will require constant evaluation and assessment.”

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