The big picture

Today, we are building the machines that can run the complex algorithms created decades ago. Quantum computers can resolve issues simultaneously, thereby multiplying computing capacity. This means that healthcare executives can test different scenarios and find complex dependencies much faster than ever before.

We are witnessing the emergence of a new class of machines which are stretching the boundaries of what computers can do. Problems once thought impossible to solve because they require computing large, complex datasets are now in the realm of the possible. And because industries are in fact defined by their most intractable problems, when these machines mature, they will ignite a cascade of disruption that will revolutionize industries, including healthcare.

Three sets of new computing machines are emerging: High-performance computers (HPCs), bio-inspired and quantum. Quantum is the pinnacle of next-generation problem solving, but HPCs, or massive parallel processing supercomputers, can also help organizations to efficiently take advantage of the swaths of data inherent to the digital world. And biology-inspired compute draws inspiration from or relies directly on natural biological processes to store data, solve problems or model complex systems in fundamentally different ways.

We are witnessing the emergence of a new class of machines which are stretching the boundaries of what computers can do.

The analysis: Compute for a new era of enterprise

More and more data are being created and collected every day, and post-digital healthcare organizations want to use the insights that come from it – thus driving demands for greater computing capabilities.

High-performance computing

Increasingly the answer to this massive data conundrum is found in HPC, or supercomputing. A combination of graphics processing units (GPUs), application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) and other purpose-built chips are starting to push HPC capabilities to new thresholds and benchmarks previously thought to be decades away – an acceleration that is rapidly making these capabilities mission-critical for healthcare organizations everywhere.

Bio-inspired compute

While HPC may be more familiar, there’s another class of technology reshaping what enterprises can do. Biology-inspired compute takes advantage of the most mature systems in the world: nature. There are two subdivisions to this class: biomimicry, or systems that draw inspiration from biological processes, and bio-compute, which are systems that directly utilize biological processes to perform computational functions.

Quantum computing

HPC and bio-inspired compute won’t be the only tools digital healthcare organizations need to execute on their future ambitions, however. While they are immensely powerful, HPC machines are still “just” classical computers, and bio-inspired compute is “just” a new approach to similar problems. The single biggest watershed moment for computing will be when quantum computers solve the healthcare problems that were considered quite literally intractable – making the impossible possible.

75%

of global healthcare executives report quantum computing will have a breakthrough or transformational impact on their organizations in the future.

Things to look out for: Benchmarking and skills

The problem-solving capabilities enabled by this new wave of computing may lead to the biggest technological disruptions of our time. Due to the nature of the problems at hand, when breakthroughs are made, adoption is likely to scale up rapidly and to cross-pollinate into other industries just as fast. There are obvious signs to follow to track this trend, namely, benchmarking. But it’s just as important for leaders tracking the maturity of these machines to understand exactly how to interpret that information.

Benchmarking

As more machines use customized chips and architecture and are built to purpose, more specific benchmarking may be required to understand true top end performance and capabilities.

Skills

The impact of these machines will directly follow the emergence of skilled workers who can use them. Expertise in mathematics, physics, engineering and coding will be more important than ever before. Another survey of top-level executives revealed the belief that top factors delaying potential quantum deployments today are a shortage of trained workers as well as software and hardware availability. In that same survey, half of respondents believed that lack of quantum experts is what was stopping quantum from being even more popular.6

Actions to take: Forging tomorrow’s industries

The computers that will create and fuel the next generation of industry are already being built, and enterprises need to be part of this wave or risk being swept away by it.

Intelligence: Evaluate the effect on operations

What problems are simply considered the cost of doing business? How would it reshape the business if you could start solving those problems? Those looking to take an active role in shaping the next wave of healthcare should be asking what hardware they can start building or using to be the first to solve their biggest and most impossible problems.

Partner: Forge inroads with others

Partnerships with organizations leading the charge in quantum computing in healthcare from large tech companies, digital natives and beyond are key to experimentation and exploration of future enterprise impacts.

Consortia: Join forces to pave the way

Consortiums are converging, committed to the growth and development of these fields. The U.S. National Institute for Standards and Technology launched the Quantum Economic Development Consortium aims to find use cases, determine technology and workforce gaps, and work with stakeholders to fill those gaps to enable the quantum computing ecosystem.7,8

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Conclusion

For decades, computers that could efficiently solve the world’s “grand challenges” have been nothing more than theoretical concepts. But healthcare enterprises can’t afford to think about them in the abstract any longer. They are rapidly improving, and their impact on industries’ most fundamental problems and parameters can either be an industry-ending event or the biggest opportunity in generations. Healthcare leaders who start rearchitecting their industry today, anticipating a future with these machines, could have the best shot at the latter.

6 Classiq Research Reveals Big Demand For, and Broad Interest In, Quantum Training. (2021, October 13). Business Wire: https://www.businesswire.com/news/ home/20211013005250/en/Classiq-Research-Reveals- Big-Demand-For-and-Broad-Interest-In-Quantum-Training

7 Vincent, B. (2020, October 27). NIST-Supported Quantum Consortium Launches Committee on National Security. Nextgov: https://www.nextgov.com/emerging-tech/2020/10/nist-led-quantum-consortium-launches-committee-national-security/169570/

8 QED-C members. (n.d.). QED-C: https://quantumconsortium.org/members/

About the Authors

Brian Kalis

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy Lead, Health


Jenica McHugh

Managing Director – Technology Strategy, Global


Kaveh Safavi

Senior Managing Director – Consulting, Global Health


Andrew Truscott

Managing Director – Health, Technology Lead, Global

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