Survey results

In November 2016, we asked YouGov Research to conduct a survey of the general public across Europe, the Middle East and Africa to understand three things:

  • if there was the appetite to engage with artificial intelligence (AI) and robots for healthcare;
  • the circumstances under which there would be greater or lesser willingness to do so; and,
  • the perceived advantages and disadvantages of using AI and robots in healthcare.

We surveyed over 12,000 people across 12 countries.  The message is clear; the public is ready and willing to substitute AI and robotics for humans.

Explore the data

Will AI replace the consultation?

Looking at the results by country, there is a surprisingly high willingness among all respondents to engage with AI and robots, regardless of country, gender or age.

From 94% of respondents in Nigeria and 85% in Turkey to 41% in Germany and 39% in the UK, consumers are willing to talk to and interact with a device, platform or robot with AI that can answer health questions, perform tests, make a diagnosis based on those tests and symptoms, and recommend and administer treatment.

A significant percentage of respondents were highly willing to choose certain treatments, tests or services administered by an AI or robot and there was widespread agreement about these services across the countries surveyed.

Specifically, consumers across the region were most willing - by a significant margin - to receive 4 types of services:

  • Monitor my heart condition (37%)
  • Administer a test that checks my heartbeat's rhythm and make recommendations based on the results (35%)
  • Provide customised advice for fitness and health based on my personal preferences and health records (34%)
  • Take and test a blood sample and provide me with the results (30%)

Will robots replace surgeons in the operating theatre?

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, if studies showed that they could do it better than a doctor, with close to half and up to 73% of all respondents willing. Respondents in Nigeria, Turkey and South Africa were the most willing to undergo minor surgery performed by robots (73%, 66% and 62% respectively), with the UK the least willing (36%).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the situation changed dramatically when it came to major surgery, such as replacement of a knee or hip joint, removal of a tumour, or heart surgery.  The survey found much higher unwillingness for a robot to perform a major procedure instead of a doctor.  Even so, Nigeria, Turkey and South Africa were far more willing (69%, 60%, and 51% respectively) than unwilling. 

The new imperatives for health

Why are consumers willing or unwilling to engage with new technology for their healthcare? We asked our survey respondents to choose what they felt were the 3 biggest advantages and disadvantages of using AI and robots for healthcare.

It is clear that for our survey participants, better access to and accuracy of healthcare services were the primary motivators for willingness to use an AI-enabled or robotic service, with lack of trust and the human element as the primary reasons for their reluctance.

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