AI & Robotics Poised to
April 13, 2017
patients are the most sceptical in Europe, the Middle East and Africa
(EMEA) when it comes to having robotics and AI involved in their
New research from PwC shows that just
39% of UK patients (and 41% of German patients) say they are willing to
engage with artificial intelligence/robotics for healthcare, in sharp
contrast with other countries in the EMEA region, such as Nigeria where
94% of patients are willing.
Even though UK patients are more sceptical, the fact that nearly four in
10 would be willing to engage with technology in their healthcare
experience signals a huge opportunity to transform healthcare delivery
for the benefit of patients.
In the UK, men are significantly more willing than women – 47% compared
to 32% - to engage with AI and robots for their healthcare. And perhaps
unsurprisingly, the older generation are much more sceptical than the
young – 33% compared to 55%.
PwC’s report - What doctor? Why AI and robotics will define New Health -
is based on a survey of over 11,000 people from 12 countries across
Europe, the Middle East and Africa. More than half of the respondents
(55%) say they would be willing to use advanced computer technology or
robots with AI that can answer health questions, perform tests, make a
diagnosis and recommend treatment. This has the potential to transform
healthcare delivery to make it better, faster and more accessible for
This report follows PwC’s recent Economic Outlook, published in March
2017, which predicts that 17% of healthcare jobs in the UK are likely to
be impacted by AI.
Brian Pomering, PwC healthcare partner, commented: “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
“The younger the demographic group, the more likely they are to see new
health technologies in a positive light. Well over half of 18 to 24 year
olds would be willing to engage with AI and robotics to take care of
some of their health. If only a proportion start to use more services
delivered through technology, that could begin to make big savings. This
could, in turn, make a serious contribution to addressing the huge
financial challenges facing the health system in the UK.”
Emerging markets are most open to rely on technology for their care
For all questions throughout the survey, a pattern emerged between
developed and emerging economies. People in countries with
well-established, and therefore less flexible, healthcare systems (UK
and Western/North Europe) were willing to engage with a non-human
healthcare provider, but less so than those in emerging markets where
healthcare is still being shaped and formed.
The survey found that even in the operating theatre, respondents would
be willing for a robot to perform a minor surgical procedure instead of
a doctor. Respondents in Nigeria, Turkey and South Africa are the most
willing to undergo minor surgery performed by robots (73%, 66% and 62%
respectively), with the UK the least willing (36%).
unsurprisingly, the situation changes dramatically when it comes to
major surgery, such as replacement of a knee or hip joint, removal of a
tumour, or heart surgery. Even so, a significant percentage of
respondents are willing to undergo major surgery performed by a robot:
ranging from 69% in Nigeria to 40% in the Netherlands and 27% in the UK.
The survey also explores the key drivers for a person’s willingness or
unwillingness to use an AI-enabled or robotic health procedure or
service. Easier and quicker access to healthcare services (36%) and
speed and accuracy of diagnoses (33%) are the primary motivators for
willingness, with lack of trust in robots being able to make decisions
(47%) and lack of the human touch (41%) as the primary reasons for their
reluctance. Although percentages vary across countries, these top two
advantages and disadvantages are cited in this order across all
countries with the exception of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, where
respondents feel the lack of ‘human touch’ was the biggest disadvantage.