JMIR Med Inform. 2022 Jun 15;10(6):e34678. doi: 10.2196/34678.
BACKGROUND: New artificial intelligence (AI) tools are being developed at a high speed. However, strategies and practical experiences surrounding the adoption and implementation of AI in health care are lacking. This is likely because of the high implementation complexity of AI, legacy IT infrastructure, and unclear business cases, thus complicating AI adoption. Research has recently started to identify the factors influencing AI readiness of organizations.
OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to investigate the factors influencing AI readiness as well as possible barriers to AI adoption and implementation in German hospitals. We also assessed the status quo regarding the dissemination of AI tools in hospitals. We focused on IT decision makers, a seldom studied but highly relevant group.
METHODS: We created a web-based survey based on recent AI readiness and implementation literature. Participants were identified through a publicly accessible database and contacted via email or invitational leaflets sent by mail, in some cases accompanied by a telephonic prenotification. The survey responses were analyzed using descriptive statistics.
RESULTS: We contacted 609 possible participants, and our database recorded 40 completed surveys. Most participants agreed or rather agreed with the statement that AI would be relevant in the future, both in Germany (37/40, 93%) and in their own hospital (36/40, 90%). Participants were asked whether their hospitals used or planned to use AI technologies. Of the 40 participants, 26 (65%) answered “yes.” Most AI technologies were used or planned for patient care, followed by biomedical research, administration, and logistics and central purchasing. The most important barriers to AI were lack of resources (staff, knowledge, and financial). Relevant possible opportunities for using AI were increase in efficiency owing to time-saving effects, competitive advantages, and increase in quality of care. Most AI tools in use or in planning have been developed with external partners.
CONCLUSIONS: Few tools have been implemented in routine care, and many hospitals do not use or plan to use AI in the future. This can likely be explained by missing or unclear business cases or the need for a modern IT infrastructure to integrate AI tools in a usable manner. These shortcomings complicate decision-making and resource attribution. As most AI technologies already in use were developed in cooperation with external partners, these relationships should be fostered. IT decision makers should assess their hospitals’ readiness for AI individually with a focus on resources. Further research should continue to monitor the dissemination of AI tools and readiness factors to determine whether improvements can be made over time. This monitoring is especially important with regard to government-supported investments in AI technologies that could alleviate financial burdens. Qualitative studies with hospital IT decision makers should be conducted to further explore the reasons for slow AI.