Machines rising

With 90% of payers saying they expect to automate many elements of work, it is clear where the future lies: Healthcare insurers will steadily adopt intelligent machines to replace mundane, repetitive processes. On average, 18% of work is performed by machines today (the cross-industry average is 17%), and that percentage is expected to grow to 24% by 2023 (see Figure 4).

What stands out, though, is the prospect of machines taking on more complex tasks. Already, 42% of respondents expect digital technology to help them make better decisions. This is reflected in the biggest areas of machine use by payers, which includes executing complex decisions and making routine, rules-based decisions.

What is unclear, so far, is whether the increased use of machine learning will eliminate (some) jobs or simply change them. Among all industries in our study, payers expressed the most concern (70%) about automated technology resulting in job displacement. Yet at the same time, 94% said they expect to collaborate with smart machines that augment job effectiveness.

While most payers said they have the internal technical and business expertise to manage automation efforts, expertise gaps exist across key areas, from process optimization to automation technology. In fact, 98% of respondents said they will face global talent shortages in the coming years (54% “to a significant degree”).

The most in-demand skills going forward include sales, increasing from 17% of respondents naming that skill as highly important today to 50% by 2023, and innovation skills, which will increase from 26% of payers to 44%.

Machine adoption steadily advances

Respondents were asked to what extent the following activities are carried out by machines vs. employees, today and in 2023. (Mean percent of work executed by machines)

Response base: 50 U.S. healthcare payers Source: Cognizant Center for the Future of Work Figure 4