A new report says Australia’s healthcare sector could unlock billions of dollars in value by 2030 if it accelerates the responsible adoption of generative artificial intelligence (GAI).
The report, Australia’s Generative AI Opportunity, is a collaboration between Microsoft and the Tech Council of Australia. It shows that GAI could contribute between $45 billion and $115 billion a year to Australia’s economy by 2030 through two major channels: improving existing industries and enabling the creation of new products and services.
Healthcare has been identified as one of the four key sectors of the Australian economy poised to benefit from GAI. The report demonstrates that the technology could contribute between $5 billion and $13 billion annually to the sector by 2030.
Unlocking the potential benefits of GAI for healthcare
The key driver of value for GAI in the healthcare sector will be its ability to allow more one-on-one patient care by reducing time spent on administrative tasks. It can also enable more personalised care by being embedded in wearable devices, and support the transition towards more proactive models of care by allowing earlier diagnosis at scale.
According to the report, GAI can automate 25 per cent and augment 5 per cent of nursing tasks, allowing nurses to spend more time one on one with patients. It also estimates that 30 per cent of new drugs could be discovered using the technology by 2025. In addition, 93 per cent of Australians are interested in using digital self-service for pre-visit tasks, which will help make healthcare more personalised and effective.
However, the report notes that maintaining patient confidentiality and safety with robust protocols will be crucial to realising these benefits.
Kate Pounder, Chief Executive Officer at the Tech Council, said the report highlights the far-reaching potential of GAI across Australia’s healthcare sector.
“With generative AI, Australia is well-positioned to take the lead in the efficient delivery of healthcare services,” Pounder said. “We’re already starting to see the benefits of this technology working alongside medical professionals as ‘copilots’.
“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.
“However, to 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.”
Lee Hickin, Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft Australia and New Zealand, said: “We’re proud to partner with the Tech Council on this timely report. Generative AI has emerged as a transformative technology in 2023, with its adoption growing rapidly across various sectors in Australia. These include several pilot programs being explored by our healthcare customers, as well as healthcare startups integrating generative AI into their offerings.
The other three key sectors identified in the report are manufacturing, retail, and professional and financial services. The report details potential use cases for GAI in each of these sectors and the subsequent economic value that could be generated using the technology.
Leveraging Australia’s comparative advantages and taking strategic actions
The report notes that industry and government are at a critical juncture in GAI adoption, with deeper collaboration needed for Australia to capture the economic benefits of this technology and to become a global leader in GAI.
Leveraging Australia’s comparative advantages in digital technology is key to spurring this collaboration. They include a large and highly skilled tech workforce, strong investment in digital infrastructure and a high level of cloud computing adoption.
The report – which is based on comprehensive economic analysis as well as consultations with industry, government and academia – also identifies the barriers that industry and government face in capitalising on GAI in four key areas: technology capability, enterprise readiness, awareness and skills, and responsible AI.
Finally, the report outlines the strategic actions that both adopters and policymakers need to take for Australia to overcome these challenges and become a global leader in GAI. These include defining the opportunity and vision for GAI, assessing readiness, incentivising adoption and innovation, upskilling the workforce, and developing responsible AI governance frameworks.
To learn more, read the report here.