Ai in Healthcare: How is Artificial Intelligence impacting Future of Healthcare?
Artificial Intelligence or AI is a new and evolving technology domain. AI essentially refers to the class of technology wherein machines can learn from experience like humans and apply the learning to perform human-like tasks. While still at its nascent stage, the technology is already making waves in various sectors including healthcare. In the last decade or two, the healthcare space has tremendously leveraged technologies to achieve more accurate treatment outcomes while making the business sustainable and viable. AI is one of the technologies that have the potential for unprecedented applications in the sector.
AI in healthcare is the broad term for referring to healthcare technologies or technology systems armed with AI capabilities. AI in healthcare includes the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms as well as other cognitive technologies in the medical care space. One of the biggest use of AI is in natural language processing (NLP) which is used to recognize speech. Essentially, AI in healthcare is used to analyze huge volumes of medical data which are stored via various means, say, manual, IoT sensor, or other technologies, and thereby provide actionable, predictive insights.
Benefits of AI in the healthcare industry
AI has applications in almost all aspects of health systems, which include preventive, promotive, and curative healthcare; public health; disease surveillance; diagnostics and pharma; health awareness and education. AI offers several benefits to the healthcare industry. Some of them are as follows:
Early detection and warning
AI is being used heavily in the diagnostics space to early detect the development or progression of diseases. AI employs deep learning abilities and analysis critical data sets to map the path of disease inception and progression, for instance in diseases like cancer. It is, therefore, able to achieve targeted diagnosis and also predict the progression of the disease.
Encourages healthier behavior
As AI is able to provide predictive insights into personal health technologies, it is used in many applications that either warns the subject against a forthcoming health impact or encourages a health-seeking habit that the person already has by showing progress.
Revolutionizes end-of-life care
AI is being leveraged to monitor and track patient health when at end of life. AI is increasingly being tested around robotics and assistive healthcare devices which can support end-of-life care. Certain studies have reported that patients prefer to spend their last days at home than in the hospital. Therefore, end-of-life care capabilities are essential in the situation.
Streamlines research and drug discovery
AI has a big role to play in streamlining pharmaceutical research systems as well as contributing in drug discovery. At present, most medicinal formulations work in a one-size-fits-all model, where the same medicine is consumed by people having different medical cases. However, with AI, the pharmaceutical industry is approaching precision medicine where new, customized drugs are discovered for specific illnesses and patient case studies.
Makes it easy to train the workforce
AI also offers tremendous opportunities to remotely or physically teach and train the healthcare workforce at different levels from Asha workers to nurses and allied healthcare workers to doctors and clinicians. It also makes public education and awareness on health and medical care easy.
Application of AI in the healthcare industry
AI has wide-ranging applications. It can be deployed to simplify and build-in efficiency in hospital administrative work to assist in diagnosis and surgery.
Making healthcare more accessible
AI helps in making quality healthcare accessible to people, especially in remote areas, as it reduces cost, saves time, streamlines and simplifies communications and processes, and minimizes effort in extending quality diagnosis and treatment.
Monitoring health using POC devices
AI technologies are being used in many point-of-care (POC) applications and wearable devices such as smartwatches, which keep a check on body vitals. These applications not only track and monitor health but also offer frequent warnings to promote healthier behavior. It is also turning smartphone technology into a diagnostic tool.
Use of brain-computer interfaces (BCI)
AI has an instrumental role in making BCI technology successful. It is a strong tool for communication between humans and systems. It uses minimal muscle movement or external devices for delivering commands to the system to act. Therefore it connects the human brain to the machine, which has several applications, such as restoring movement ability in physically challenged.
More precise analytics for pathology images
AI has proven potential to study pathology images, especially histological scans to diagnose cancers. With the evolution in technologies and quality of data sets, AI will provide faster, more accurate conclusions.
Using AI for early alerting and clinical decision support
AI’s predictive analytical capabilities help healthcare providers with timely and actionable insights, alerting them against a problem and supporting quick decision-making.
Automating electronic health records (EHR)
AI is automating EHR and thereby reducing the burden of maintaining clinical documentation. It makes the interface intuitive and easy to access across all access points from hospitals to patients.
Next-Gen radiology tools
AI is increasingly contributing more to the development of future radiology tools. It is making the process faster and outcomes more accurate diagnosis. By learning from voluminous data sets, it extracts patterns and comes up with findings that may not be visible to the human eye.
To identify patients at risk
Machine Learning helps in the risk stratification of patients. It helps in predicting the state of disease in the future for an individual patient. It can help in making individual predictions and lead to personalized medicine.
Using AI in medical machines and devices
Medical devices and machines in hospitals are leveraging AI capabilities to enhance the quality of healthcare delivery in a more operationally efficient and cost-efficient manner.
Impact of AI on the healthcare workforce
There is misguided fear that AI will lead to a reduction in employment opportunities. On the contrary, it will engage human beings in more qualified and more rewarding job roles and will help them achieve more in less time. It will also lead to a class of healthcare employment opportunities in the health-tech sector. Artificial Intelligence is all set to revolutionize the sector in more ways than one. More importantly, it will help quality healthcare services reach the masses and will help in making healthcare equitable.