The Harris Poll made a survey on behalf of call analytics company Invoca, and it was revealed that 22% of respondents aged 18-34 would trust healthcare advice generated by AI. Meanwhile, the results are worse for respondents aged over 65, as only 10% of them felt the same. The more disturbing revelation is that the respondents who view AI favorably comprise only 20% of a sample population of 2,048 total respondents.

If this survey were to represent the American population as a whole, it would mean only 1 in 5 American adults would trust AI-generated healthcare advice, preferring to trust human practitioners or healthcare advisors.

The Generation Gap

Results indicated a distinct “generation gap” among the respondents. A whopping 80% of the younger respondents (those aged 18-34) said they’d more likely trust health advice from an AI, as opposed to 62% among those aged 35 and older who won’t, and the smallest group comprised 10% coming from respondents aged 64 and above.

Phone Calls are King

It was also discovered that respondents preferred to make their healthcare transactions over the phone, with 32% of respondents favoring this option. Talking to an actual person was a close second with 30%, and finally, a mere 25% of the respondents opted to engage online. A gender disparity was also evident, as more women than men (36% vs. 28%) preferred to conduct healthcare transactions by phone.

Illustration of female medical telemarketer on phone
Despite advances in healthcare AI, more people still prefer and trust medical advice from real people, over the phone


AI Trust Issues not just in Healthcare

The healthcare industry isn’t alone with “trust issues” regarding AI. Pega previously did a study  for AI in banking and yielded similar results; only 25% of the respondents expressed trust for an AI that was to be used to evaluate loan applicants. That study also revealed that 56% of the respondents didn’t believe it was possible to create machines that “behave morally” and only 12% claim that they’ve encountered a machine that’s capable of empathy.

Huge Potential in Healthcare AI

Marketing research firm MarketsandMarkets reported that the AI healthcare market is projected to increase by 50.2% compounded annually from 2018 and 2025, or from $2.1 billion to $36.1 billion. The need to reduce healthcare costs along with big data, exponential growth in computing power, lowered hardware costs, and demand to balance the patient-to-healthcare-worker ratio are spurring this growth. Unfortunately, this is not without obstacles. Some of the main hurdles to AI’s rise in healthcare include medical professionals’ reluctance to adopt AI, lack of skilled healthcare workers and vague regulatory guidelines on healthcare AI. For the successful addition of AI in the healthcare industry, MarketsandMarkets noted that integration, deployment, support and maintenance services are urgently required.

Machine Learning and AI to the rescue

Despite many consumers’ distrust of AI with their health concerns, medical institutions are starting to see and reap the benefits of harnessing machine learning and AI. Many hospitals, research centers, pharma companies and similar healthcare institutions are now employing machine learning for better service delivery. Natural language processing is now applied to patient data and risk analysis, lifestyle management and mental health. Hospitals are also deploying AI-based tools like voice recognition, clinical decision support systems and related AI tech to streamline workflow processes, lower costs, improve care delivery and patient experiences.

Implications for Marketers and the AI industry

In the healthcare industry, these “trust issues” show that the AI industry must address public perception of AI and AI-related tech, particularly with the older, less tech-savvy segment. On a related note, marketers are slowly but surely seeing how AI can benefit their brands, but the AI’s expansion in healthcare could be undermined if consumers distrust and refuse to engage with AI.

Perhaps if marketers took the time to make an “information drive” for AI, barriers like consumer distrust across demographics can be resolved. Another possible solution is to use AI that’s more “emotionally intelligent” to foster trust among consumers.

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What do you think about consumers’ distrust of AI? Does it apply to your brand or service? What do you think marketers, AI startups and healthcare institutions do to make consumers trust AI with their healthcare? Share your ideas in the comments!

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