How Artificial Intelligence is shaping the future of healthcare

Today, digital tools are the norm in every facet of life. A step forward from this is artificial intelligence or Ai as it is popularly known. The potential of Ai in transforming the manner in which we function as human beings is phenomenal. IoT and other machine learning solutions are pointers to this fact. 

Healthcare is no different. For instance, robotic-assisted surgery has upped the curve in patient recovery and considerably reduced surgery risks. Medical diagnosis and the science of medicine itself has leapfrogged, thanks to Ai that has broken hitherto existing limitations and has given laboratories, radiologists, pathologists, doctors and specialists a new and powerful way of arriving at accurate diagnosis and subsequently chalking out a recovery plan for patients with clarity and better outcomes. 

Added to this is the demand for healthcare professionals across the world. With an increasing shortage of practising doctors and support healthcare professionals, many healthcare institutions and hospitals are constantly firefighting to bridge the demand-supply gap of quality healthcare services and increasing patient expectations for holistic healthcare delivery. Today more than ever, the healthcare segment is realizing the importance of Ai powered tools and technology to bring about significant transformations.

It is estimated that Ai applications can cut annual healthcare costs in the USA by $150 billion by 2026. This is because an Ai- based healthcare approach enables a significant change in the healthcare model from a reactive to a proactive approach. Better clarity and early diagnosis imply higher patient recovery, fewer hospitalizations, fewer doctor visits and significant cost savings for treatments. Besides, Ai powered technology in healthcare plays an important role in ensuring people stay healthy by developing a culture of continuous screening, monitoring, arriving at informed decisions through insightful patient data and quick follow-ups.

A 2018 report by Accenture mentioned the core areas where healthcare will be utilizing Ai technology. These included connected machines, reduction of dosage error and cybersecurity. A 2019 Mckinsey report identifies important areas as connected and cognitive devices, targeted personalized medicine, robotics-assisted surgery and electroceuticals. 

Precision Medicine – Putting the patient first

Ai can be a valuable contributor in the area of precision medicine. This implies customized healthcare interventions to patients or groups of patients based on insightful data collected in terms of disease profile, diagnostic/prognostic information, history, treatment response etc.  

The Ai insights will also consider information regarding the patient’s gene pool – race, family history, immune profile, environment vulnerability etc. With such a wealth of patient data, doctors now can tailor-make more precise patient recovery and care. In addition, precision medicine also implies reduced healthcare costs, minimizing adverse drug reactions and also choosing optimized treatment options that favour the patient’s recovery and subsequent wellness. 

Deep learning Ai for image analysis 

Especially in the area of health screening, Ai-led technology is fast becoming the screening of choice, paving the way for clear, accurate and speedy screening reports and analysis. Manual tools can be inconsistent and there is always human error in reading and interpreting these images due to lack of clarity or other technical issues. Ai models in health screening have the capability to improve prognosis, diagnostics and even plan enhanced patient care. Moreover, since Ai- based image screening enables early detection of critical illnesses like cancer and other lifestyle diseases, the patient can be put on the path of recovery sooner.

With the increasing inclusion of Ai in healthcare, there are efforts to develop a technology platform that will harness intelligent automation in such a manner so as to minimize errors, reduce screening procedures, improve diagnosis and the overall patient experience.  One of the many advantages that an Ai based screening can offer is the collection of relevant patient data and track every individual’s screening process. 

Notifications on the next screening if required or reminders of annual health screening can create a holistic ecosystem wherein the patient, screening centres, hospitals and specialists work in sync to deliver the best care to the patient. 

Ai is the next level in healthcare

As healthcare mechanisms worldwide strive to optimize patient treatment and care, Ai has arrived with its caravan of immense possibilities. The world over, several Ai solutions have begun making headway and transforming the very approach to healthcare. Ai is significantly reducing errors and saving lives. It is also paving the way for better patient experience and care. 

Solutions like PathAI (machine learning technology to assist pathologists for more accurate cancer diagnosis), Buoy Health (an intelligent symptom checker through a chatbot), Enlitic (medical tools to streamline radiology diagnosis through deep learning), Freenome (earlier cancer detection with Ai) are a few examples.

The Ai sector was valued at $600 million in 2014 and is estimated to reach $150 million by 2026. In the healthcare segment, the application of Ai is limitless. From discovering links between genetic codes, surgical robots, maximizing hospital efficiency, accurate health screenings, early disease detection, minimizing errors and even bringing down the cost of new drug discovery to develop next-generation medicines, Ai in healthcare is here to stay. 

The good news is we can rely on this extremely intelligent entity, albeit artificial, to grant us healthier, happier lives.