Artificial Intelligence and HealthCare

AI in healthcare
AI in healthcare

In recent years artificial intelligence has caused some major progress in the field of healthcare. The Artificial Intelligence based healthcare industry is expected to reach 6.6 billion US dollars by the next year of 2021. A lot of factors have contributed towards this staggering breakthrough of AI in healthcare. 

With AI helping researchers and experts in all major fields, it is but natural to merge AI with medicine. The medical and healthcare field has an edge of developing robust AI systems due to the large data records collected over a long period. This fulfills one of the pre-requisites of modern complex AI algorithms. Most algorithms employed by AI-based healthcare systems train over this data input. Input data can be numerical values such as heartbeat rate or blood pressure values or image-based such as scans. AI software then learns over these values to make a prediction or a classification. Specific values of heartbeat and blood pressure may indicate a blood clot. Specific indications may classify a cell as cancerous.

AI in healthcare is not altogether a new concept. In many ways, AI is helping in healthcare and working in collaboration with medical professionals. In this blog, we will explore this arena of AI in healthcare. How is it proving beneficial? What are the challenges and how can we overcome them. In the end a little insight on what to expect from AI in the future healthcare. 

Benefits of AI in Healthcare:

We are already experiencing AI in healthcare in one way or the other. Mostly helping medical staff with billing and prescriptions. AI is helping healthcare in three main ways: digitization, diagnostics, and treatment. Overall AI is collaborating with medical experts in the assessment of diseases and approaches that can be adopted for the treatment, in patient’s health care, and further medical research. Let’s look deeper into various areas where AI applications are assisting medical experts.

Diagnostics:

AI has proved more accurate in detecting symptoms than humans. This AI-based diagnostic test can help cure several diseases before any loss. AI-based wearables and other applications are also helping doctors in the monitoring of patients for timely diagnosis and treatment. AI algorithms have proven to be 87% accurate for diagnosis and they are analyzing MRI scans 1,000 times faster than the doctors.

Deep Learning Based Automatic Detection algorithm created at Seoul National University Hospital and College of Medicine is an example of an AI algorithm outperforming human doctors in image classification. This algorithm is used to analyze chest radiography and detect any cell anomaly leading to cancerous disease. The algorithm was tested against 18 doctors and outperformed 17 of them.

Treatments:

Today all hospitals boasting of high-quality medical care provision are using AI for the treatments of the patients. AI does not get any interesting without robots. AI robots have actually made their ways in the hospitals working as nurses, carrying medical supplies around the hospitals. Moreover, AI-based surgeries are also taking place. Robots in China are qualified enough to perform complex surgeries and dental checkups. In 2017, an AI robot with an AI brain appeared in a medical license examination and cleared it in China. Also, AI-based surgeries are resulting in lesser complications as compared to those performed by a human surgeon. One study that involved 379 orthopedic patients undergoing eye surgeries reported 5 times fewer complications with AI-assisted procedures.

AI robots in surgeries
AI robots in surgeries

Medication:

AI is helping in better providing medical prescriptions to the patients. A large data of a patient’s medical history is finally proving fruitful. AI-based prescription is made after careful analysis of patients’ current conditions, lifestyle, past diseases, hereditary traits, etc. Providing accurate and effective medication for the prevention of medical complications is as important as providing accurate diagnosis and operations.

Patient Care:

AI is helping in long term care of patients. This does not include regular visits to hospitals. Thanks to the internet of medical technology and AI-powered wearables, medical care is as portable as it can be. These AI-based ‘gadgets’ can be used to timely monitor the patient’s health. It can be used to suggest a better lifestyle, warn when there is some indication of medical problems, and above all motivate an individual to maintain a healthy lifestyle. According to a study, AI-based virtual medical care can save 20 billion US dollars annually to the medical industry.

Drug Development:

For years drug discovery and development have been a tedious and expensive procedure. The trial and error procedure results in the loss of billions for pharmaceutical companies. Out of thousands of drugs, one would make its way to the pharmacies. AI has changed this scenario. With AI-based technology better procedures can be adopted in contrast to the conventional methods. Large pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer are already joining hands with large tech giants like IBM involved in AI technology to help in the process of drug development through deep learning. AI can make use of existing drugs, patient records, and simulate new cures.

AI in Healthcare
AI in Healthcare

Why AI in Healthcare matters?

There is a change in the technology paradigm. We are facing the latest software systems working on complex algorithms undertaking tasks of deciphering problems of extreme nuances. AI is bound to help us in healthcare. 

Make use of massive data: With large amounts of medical data that is expected to get double and so on, a human brain is inefficient to take up all this data and provide something useful out of it. AI is the answer here. 

Free Humans: Like in any other field, AI frees the human mind from tedious tasks. It frees medical doctors from writing prescriptions and doing administrative tasks. AI gives them time and energy to take up more complex problems at hand.

Increase Credibility: AI is helping surgeons to make reliable decisions. It puts forward information that could otherwise be easily missed. With the help of information that AI brings to the table the credibility of medical decisions and provided treatments have increased.

Decrease Costs: AI is helping in making medical care affordable. AI-powered treatments and machines will lower the cost of surgeries and treatments. According to a study done by Frost and Sullivan, AI has the capability to lower the cost of medical procedures by 50 percent. Moreover, AI-based research approaches in the field of disease detection and drug development will lower the cost of overall procedures in terms of money and time.

AI in HealthCare – Some Challenges:

Error Replication:

The risk of error-prone diagnosis or treatment is always there whether there is a human doctor or there is some AI assistance. The difference lies in the consequences. If a human doctor neglects some symptoms or makes a wrong analysis, the result would be somewhat contained. But if an AI system undergoes some error and provides an error-prone treatment, error may immediately get replicated in a number of patients.

Problematic Data:

The availability of large amounts of medical data is no doubt a good point for AI-based medical care. But the data gathered for AI-based processing and examination through different pharmacies, health insurance companies, and hospitals is often fragmented. There comes a variety of data being collected from different sources. This reduces data completeness and also increases the cost of data gathering.

Privacy Issues:

The collection of patients’ medical data is somehow a sensitive issue. Not everyone is going to be comfortable with the AI system gaining access to their medical history and even of their near ones for better results. This can result in a breach of privacy and result in a matter of legality. This actually has resulted in the filing of lawsuits against AI developers.

AI and healthcare
AI and healthcare

Unbalanced Collaboration:

Some medical experts are of concern that AI-based medical procedures will greatly mold the medical field in the long run. Medical professionals will lose control over major practices thus reducing their knowledge and capability with time. Some medical procedures will entirely realign on machines such as radiology as much of their work gets done by the machines.

A look into the future:

Considering all the benefits and challenges associated with AI in healthcare, we can establish that there is still a long way to go. Although AI experts are already on to the work of overcoming these challenges. This task involves professionals from medical, technology, and government alike. With the on-going advancements in AI, the future of AI-based healthcare looks promising. Effective integration of mind and machines, better collection and processing of available data, leveraging virtual medical assistance through smartphones and wearables will allow a seamless combination of artificial intelligence and healthcare.

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