How is Artificial Intelligence Improving Health Care?
The contributions that artificial intelligence can bring to the health care industry will change how the medical field works in groundbreaking ways, allowing people around the world to receive safer and more efficient care and making it easier to prevent and cure diseases.
Traditionally, analysis of health records, medical literature, and historical trends was extremely time consuming, but these kinds of tasks are perfectly suited to AI tools.
IBM recently deployed its AI assistant, Watson, in a test to analyze 1,000 cancer diagnoses. In 99 percent of the cases reviewed, the treatment plans recommended by Watson matched those suggested by the patients’ oncologists. You can review a video about Watson’s cancer diagnostic test here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmI89fY_w5U
Using AI tools like this can change the way diseases are diagnosed and treated, enabling patients to get the care they need faster and more efficiently. Watson is already being used in hospitals around the world, providing IBM with incredible opportunities for growth while also helping to improve health care worldwide.
Another AI-based tool being used in health care was created by DeepMind, an AI lab based in the UK that was bought by Google in 2014. This AI assistant analyzed over 1 million anonymous eye scans to train itself to be able to identify the early signs of eye disease.
There are many other examples of AI-based technology being implemented to aid in the practice of medicine. Because AI tools can review health records and medical data with so much more speed and accuracy than humans, their use can greatly increase the accuracy, and reduce the likelihood of human error, in diagnostics, treatment plans and overall patient care.
Another trend that has developed because of the availability of AI-powered health tools is at-home testing and personalized health care. Using features on their smartphones, people can now perform certain diagnostic tests from the comfort of their own homes, cutting down on health care costs and reducing the workload on doctors and medical staff, while also helping to improve the health of those using the tools. This is especially valuable in rural areas, where quality and timely health care is less accessible.
AICure.com is one company that has created an at-home AI assistant for medication tracking. This patented technology allows patients to confirm whether their medication has been ingested as prescribed by using an app on their smartphone. One study revealed a 50 percent improvement in adherence to dosing instructions when this app was utilized.
There are also many different wearable sensors and devices that send data to smartphones to help people monitor various aspects of their health, including blood pressure, oxygenation, heart rate, sleep patterns, and other indicators.
However, human health is quite complex and the use of AI technologies in health care can lead to several questions in regard to ethics. For example, who is responsible when a patient receives an incorrect diagnosis from their smartphone? Also, who should be able to access sensitive medical information about a patient who uses their smartphone to monitor it?
While there are certainly questions to be answered, there are incredibly helpful and exciting applications of AI software coming to the medical industry in the near future. According to Accenture Consulting’s report, Artificial Intelligence: Health Care’s New Nervous System, here are the top AI applications that will soon be available:
- Robot-Assisted Surgery ($40 billion industry)
- Virtual Nursing Assistants ($20 billion industry)
- Administrative Workflow Assistance ($18 billion industry)
Over the next few years, we will likely see exponential growth in the medical field due to the advances made possible by AI-powered technologies. AI tools will help more people to be able to have access to high-quality health care, provide fast and efficient analysis of data for doctors and hospitals, and enable patients to better track their own health.
Case Study: COVID-19
The Coronavirus pandemic will end up changing the healthcare industry worldwide forever in a variety of ways. Although this terrible pandemic has been placing most of the affected countries’ healthcare systems under enormous strain, AI has been able to provide some relief.
China has produced some innovative AI-based solutions that have proven quite helpful in the war against the virus. For example, AI-based software created in China was able to contribute considerably to the massive demand for Coronavirus testing by analyzing chest CT scans, producing 90% reliable results in just 15 seconds.
China was also the first country to use robots to disinfect hospital rooms and carry supplies, reducing the risk of infection for medical personnel. Several countries will follow suit and start using robots for this purpose. This type of protective measure is not only invaluable in the fight against the spread of Coronavirus, but should continue to be used in hospitals to keep them sanitary and help prevent the spread of all contagious illnesses. Hopefully the Spanish government will soon make the necessary investments to ensure that hospitals in Spain can acquire AI software and robots to assist and protect hospital workers.
Spain has, in fact, made some remarkable contributions of its own to the battle against COVID-19. 1MillionBot, an Alicante-based AI startup, has created an AI chatbot that was able to share valuable information about COVID-19 with large numbers of Spanish citizens in the very early days of the outbreak.
Starting on the 26th of February 2020, more than two weeks before the Spanish government announced a countrywide lockdown on the 13th of March 2020, this chatbot started providing important information about the virus, answering more than 100,000 questions about it in the first weeks of the outbreak.
During this time, this chatbot was able to help more than 30,000 users to better understand what Coronavirus is, how to avoid contracting it, and how to slow the spread of it.
Countless town halls and institutions made this chatbot available to the public by placing it on their websites in order to share this potentially life-saving information with as many people as possible. Providing this essential information so early helped to reduce a lot of panic and confusion, and it all happened before the government had time to respond, issue instructions, or generate digital tools to provide information about the pandemic. Full disclosure: I’m a board advisor for 1MillionBot.
Another example of fantastic work coming out of Spain is a Valencia-based company called Quibim, which has developed a neural network that can use medical images to ascertain the level of seriousness of a COVID-19 patient’s condition. Based on this information, this product can provide recommendations regarding the infected person’s care, including whether hospitalization is advisable.
AI is also being used to assist in the world’s frantic search for a Coronavirus vaccine. Researchers are using NLP to analyze research papers to help them better understand the disease’s viral protein structure.
Also, Google’s DeepMind software, AlphaFold, has been able to predict the 3D structure of the Coronavirus’ protein based on its genetic sequence. Theoretically, this will allow for the creation of new proteins that will “stick” to and disable the virus. The data from these findings has been made available online for free, for any medical researchers to use in the rush to develop a vaccine.
There are countless examples of how AI products created by private companies can bring significant improvements to the healthcare sector. In order to maximize the healthcare benefits that AI can provide to help all of society, it will become increasingly important in the future for there to be private – public collaboration to achieve this.
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