Saudi healthcare providers embrace AI as a tool, not a replacement

76.2 percent of respondents agreed that AI was beneficial in their area of expertise 
Saudi healthcare providers embrace AI as a tool, not a replacement
AI in Saudi healthcare

According to a recent study published in Cureus, a journal of medical science, Saudi healthcare providers generally held a positive perception of artificial intelligence (AI). Despite concerns among a significant majority of healthcare providers in Saudi Arabia that AI might replace their jobs, the research paper highlighted that AI is viewed as an important tool for practitioners rather than a replacement for physicians.

Conducted between January 2023 and April 2023, the study involved 1026 healthcare providers in Saudi Arabia.

Read more: Saudi healthcare investments to meet population growth, life expectancy

Good understanding

The main objective of this study was to investigate the views and concerns of healthcare providers in Saudi Arabia regarding the application of AI in healthcare facilities. The report found that a majority of respondents (55.2 percent) had a good understanding of AI, with 48.1 percent of them being familiar with its application in their specific field. Furthermore, a significant number of participants (57.9 percent) were knowledgeable about the difference between machine learning and deep learning. Many respondents (69.9 percent) reported using speech recognition or transcription applications in their work.

Growing interest despite privacy concerns 

While concerns about privacy were acknowledged by a significant portion of respondents, a majority (76.2 percent) agreed that AI was beneficial in their area of expertise. These findings align with a similar study conducted in the United States by Liu et al. (2022), which reported that 91.5 percent of medical students believed that AI training during medical school would be valuable for their future careers. Interestingly, despite concerns about privacy, a large proportion of respondents expressed interest in learning AI to enhance performance efficiency and advance their careers. These findings are consistent with a study conducted in Canada by Teng et al. (2022), which found that 57.3 percent of medical students believed that AI would improve the healthcare profession and have a positive impact on their careers.

Job reduction fears

In this study, 73.3 percent of healthcare providers believed that AI could potentially replace them in their jobs. However, Jha et al.’s (2022) study revealed that over half of the respondents agreed that AI would reduce the number of healthcare-related jobs.

Ahmed et al.’s (2022) study found that approximately 70 percent of medical students acknowledged that AI could serve as a tool to assist practitioners. Similarly, 81.8 percent of doctors in the same study also shared this belief. They recognized that AI could support healthcare professionals rather than completely replacing them.

The majority of respondents in this study (76.2 percent) supported initiatives aimed at integrating AI courses into medical curricula. The findings align with Khanagar et al.’s (2021) study. It revealed that over half of dental students in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia supported the use of AI in dentistry.

In this study, a significant majority (84.9 percent) of participants expressed their belief. They believed in the transformative potential of collaboration between medical schools and engineering/computer science faculties. They saw this collaboration as crucial for effectively incorporating AI into medical curricula.

This finding supports the assertion made by Singh et al. (2020). They argued that integrating real-world AI and technological innovations into healthcare systems would enhance efficiency and effectiveness. This integration would have a positive impact on service delivery across healthcare facilities.

Saudi healthcare AI

Perception score

Additionally, the study found that the mean perception score of AI was 37.6. Factors such as age, level of health, health profession, and work experience were found to significantly influence the positive perception score. However, there was no significant association between gender, nationality, and Saudi regions with the mean positive perception score. This can be attributed to the fact that experienced healthcare professionals generally have a higher level of knowledge and awareness compared to their less-experienced counterparts. Additionally, prior exposure to AI through seminars and training may have influenced these findings.

Furthermore, the research found no significant association between gender and the mean positive perception score. It also found no significant association between nationality and the mean positive perception score. Additionally, specific regions within Saudi Arabia showed no significant association with the mean positive perception score.

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