When asked whether they use artificial intelligence for healthcare needs, be it a mobile application, a digital assistant, or another technological option, 10.1 percent of respondents answered in the affirmative. Interestingly, modern healthcare solutions are used more often by men than women, and, as expected, younger citizens use apps or digital assistants, so the largest share of users of AI services in healthcare belongs to the under-40 age group. However, 6.3 percent of citizens over the age of 60 use new services and have adapted to the new normal. Among the highly educated, as many as 15.7 percent use these services, and the share of those who use digital services among the employed population is also above average. Surprisingly, only two percent of students are using the latest technology, but this could be due to less interest in health services.
The interesting fact from this study is that the smallest number of respondents cite doctors and pharmacists as a source of information about AI services. Most tend to learn about the new possibilities by word of mouth from people close to them or through the media. The survey Healthcare in Pandemic Times was conducted in Croatia’s four largest cities: Zagreb, Rijeka, Split, and Osijek.
The results from Croatia reflect the global trends researched by the consulting company PwC, which show that citizens are open to interacting with healthcare systems on digital platforms. According to the survey, as many as 91 percent of respondents who used virtual care – which includes a variety of services, from initial assessment to chronic disease management – said they would use it again instead of in-person doctor visits. Likewise, two-thirds of participants responded that they would be willing to participate in clinical trials with digital tools, remote patient monitoring, and virtual interactions, so they are comfortable with using technology to provide data, having virtual interviews with research teams, and using remote health monitoring devices.
The study yielded four major trends: patients’ expectations for more frequent use of virtual care, the demand for better data sharing by institutions, the development of digital and virtual clinical trials, and supply chain resiliency to protect against disruptions. These trends have emerged under the strong influence of the COVID-19 crisis, i.e. the changes that the ‘new normal’ has brought to our lives. PwC health industry professionals highlight these four issues as the key topics of interest in the next 12 to 24 months.