British Prime Minister Theresa May pledged in May that she would invest substantially in Artificial Intelligence (AI) to detect cancer in its early stage. This technology is expected to save 22,000 lives each year by 2033.

SwissCognitiveFrench President Emmanuel Macron also aims to use AI to improve healthcare. He announced in March an investment of 1.5 billion euros (USD 1.7 billion) in AI development by 2022 to allow France to compete with China and the United States.

Al has been widely applied in healthcare. It can identify early symptoms, diagnose diseases, help carry out operations, predict when an epidemic will break out and undertake hospital administrative tasks such as making appointments and registering patients.

Accenture, a consultancy firm, estimated that 10 promising Al applications could save up to USD 150 billion in annual medical expenses for the U.S. by 2026.

Among the 10 applications, the most valuable is the robot-assisted surgery, according to the research. A study of 379 patients who had undergone orthopedic surgeries found that an AI-assisted robotic technique resulted in a five-fold reduction in the complications compared to operations performed solely by human surgeons.

The AI assistant helps analyse medical records before surgery, guides the doctor during the procedure, and subsequently summarizes the experience, which allows it to improve its technique. It is estimated that robot-assisted surgery can add USD 40 billion to the healthcare industry by 2026.

However, although Al has great potential, there are many obstacles to overcome for it to be widely accepted by the healthcare community, McKinsey, another consultancy firm, points out.

According to a survey the company conducted of senior executives in the U.S., those in the healthcare profession are very cautious about advanced technology such as machine learning. One report found that the healthcare sector has only realized about 10 percent to 20 percent of the opportunities to use advanced analytics and machine learning.

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The McKinsey report found that the healthcare industry is not resistant to new technology; cautiousness is mainly due to the unique characteristics of the industry. […]