Artificial Intelligence will completely transform healthcare soon. The question is, how will patients and healthcare providers benefit from it?
The healthcare industry has seen much advancement in the current COVID-19 crisis. There is rising popularity of new digital health devices and e-consultation. Online pharmacies, like Click Pharmacy, have become a household name in many places.
But there is much room for improvement. Management of many chronic diseases, diagnostics, radiology, and risk assessment; there are countless opportunities to leverage specifically designed technology to make immense patient care improvements.
How can AI improve healthcare
With the increasing population, a greater shift towards tech, and requirements of the current age, AI is one of the few viable solutions. It can spread to encompass the complete healthcare continuum and increase the efficiency of care by a significant margin.
An AI offers some advantages that surpass traditional analysis and decision-making techniques. Adaptive algorithms learn with time to become more precise and accurate. They can take diagnostics, treatment viability, outcome prediction, and care processes to unprecedented heights.
Areas of the healthcare industry likely to see the biggest impact from AI within the next decade;
1. Neural interface development
Several sci-fi movies have used the idea of a direct interface between the brain and technology. It can theoretically eliminate the need for a keyboard, mouse and monitor.
Some patients lose their ability to speak, move or interact due to a neurological disease or trauma. Neural interface technology coupled with AI can help restore these fundamental experiences in the future. It can decode neural impulses in the brain, map out a pattern and adapt to the individual. This technology will become invaluable for patients with strokes, paralysis, spinal cord injuries, and locked-in syndrome. Think of it as a highly advanced form of the famous Professor Stephen Hawking’s assistive technology.
2. Better radiology tools
MRI, CT scan, X-ray, and PET scan are some well-known examples of non-invasive diagnostic processes. They reveal the human body’s inner workings to some extent, making it easier for the doctor to identify abnormalities.
Many diagnosticians still prefer relying on a physical tissue sample taken through a biopsy because current radiology is not good enough for all body parts. In the future, AI will enable incredibly precise radiology tools that will replace the need for tissue samples. It may also allow researchers to understand how tumours behave and respond to certain treatments. The target treatment (where the smallest diseased portion of the body is directly treated without touching the surroundings) will also become possible with better radiology tools.
3. Availability of better healthcare in developing regions
Increasing population and lack of resources and healthcare professionals limit access to proper healthcare in developing countries. There are more radiologists in London than in all of the West African public health system.
Artificial Intelligence can help mitigate this deficit of qualified staff by taking over many duties. AI imaging and radiology tools can perform diagnostics with great accuracy. The AI may face trouble accounting for ethnic, environmental, and physiological differences in the beginning. Still, better programming and learning algorithms will resolve it eventually.
4. Streamlining electronic health record use
EHR use has managed to shift healthcare towards digitalisation. But it has also brought its share of problems, like endless documentation, cognitive overload and user burnout. EHR gathers a mountain of data. Sadly, it is far from being utilised to its full potential.
Now, the EHR developers are using AI to create interfaces with better predictive algorithms. It will automate some routine procedures that waste a user’s time. Voice recognition and dictation tech will improve clinical documentation. Virtual assistants will become bedside partners to clinicians. AI may also help process routine inbox requests, like refilling a prescription. The tasks will be prioritised according to their urgency, making a physician’s job immensely easy.
5. Reducing the risks of antibiotic resistance
One of the greatest growing threats to modern civilisation is antibiotic resistance. Overuse of critical drugs enables the evolution of superbugs resistant to existing treatment.
AI can help monitor EHR data and identify patterns of mutation. Its predictive algorithms can highlight patients at risk before they show symptoms. The accuracy, speed, and precision of an AI can be of immense help to care providers. Its pattern mapping and intuitiveness will allow advanced preparation.
6. Precise analytics for pathology images
Almost seventy per cent of all healthcare decisions are based on pathology results. Nearly 70-75 per cent of data in EHR also comes from pathology. That’s how important this field is in healthcare.
AI in pathology can improve the accuracy of the results. Analytics can zoom down to the pixel level and identify markers that may escape the human eye. A care provider can immediately determine the location, activity and metastasis of cancer before it becomes critical. This is going to be a massive advance in the fight against hidden diseases. AI can see through a slide, analyse it, and direct attention towards the affected area. You can start immediate treatment with a quicker and better diagnosis, significantly improving your survival potential.
7. Immunotherapy advancement for cancer treatment
There are a lot of treatments for cancer, but immunotherapy is one of the most promising. It enables the immune system to fight against malignancies on its own. Unfortunately, only a small number of patients respond to current immunotherapy treatments, and oncologists do not have a reliable method to determine which patients will benefit from them.
Adaptive learning algorithms of an AI can synthesise a complex amount of data. It may illuminate new options for using targeted therapies tailor-suited to an individual’s genetic makeup. There’s a lot of research and data still required to make this option viable. But an AI will be of immense help in making it a reality.
8. Monitoring health with wearable technology
Nowadays, almost every consumer has access to devices with sensors that can collect valuable health data. Smartphones and other wearable tech can track steps, heartbeat, elevation, blood pressure, and more. Analysing this data and correlating it with patient-given information can offer a unique perspective on the health of an individual or a group.
Manual sifting through so much data and drawing conclusive results is not feasible without an AI. It can detect patterns by analysing the data of a person, group, ethnicity, gender, and more. An AI can factor in the different foods, timings of taking a meal, number of hours spent in REM sleep and many more variables. This data will be extremely valuable in predicting illnesses, viral attacks, superbugs, etc.
Artificial intelligence in healthcare will help extract actionable insights from this treasure trove of data.
Artificial Intelligence will power a new generation of tools and healthcare systems that make clinicians job easier. They will deliver better care and develop better solutions for various healthcare problems. An AI will usher in a revolutionary era that will improve clinical quality. Lastly, it will usher in a new era of advancements and breakthroughs in healthcare.