An Aethon Inc. TUG robotic courier carries supplies through the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center at Mission Bay in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, March 19, 2015.  (Photo: Noah Berger/Bloomberg) The move to population health and a greater acceptance of machines to help deliver medical care to patients will help turn artificial intelligence into a $6 billion market within three years, according to a new analysis. Accenture says healthcare’s artificial intelligence market will reach $6.6 billion by 2021 .

That’s a jump from $600 million in 2014, according to the consulting firm, which released a new report at HIMSS18 annual meeting this week in Las Vegas. The Accenture analysis looked at investments, revenue growth, acquisitions in the artificial intelligence space, executives said.

“Driven by experiences outside of healthcare, consumers increasingly expect to use digital technologies to control when, where and how they receive care services,” Accenture’s Dr. Kaveh Safavi, who leads the consulting firm’s health practice said in a statement accompanying the report. One in five U.S. consumers say they have already used healthcare services “powered by artificial intelligence” whether they be robots, “virtual clinicians,” and “home-based diagnostics,” Accenture’s survey of more than 3,000 consumers shows.

Businesses and venture funds are moving rapidly to fund and develop products and systems in the artificial intelligence space. The trend fits with the general push by the healthcare industry away from fee-for-service medicine that emphasizes volume of care delivered to value-based models and population health that make sure treatment is provided in the right place, in the right amount and at the right time.

Already, insurers like Anthem and Cigna are using artificial intelligence as a way to curtail opioid addiction and the related misuse and abuse of the powerful painkillers. And UnitedHealth Group’s Optum Ventures last year launched a $250 million fund that has already invested in an array of digital health and artificial intelligence ventures such as Buoy Health. Read more from…

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