Artificial Intelligence and Healthcare

By Luke Smith, Writer and Researcher
Twitter: @lukesmithwrites

The artificial intelligence industry is exploding in value and functionality, effectively reshaping healthcare solutions in the process. By 2026, AI as an industry is expected to reach $150 billion. This value has been brought about by the game-changing treatments and care options offered by smart systems — options like diagnostics through telehealth and health data tracked through wearables. Healthcare as a whole has the potential to be transformed by the widespread adoption of AI tools. This transformation will mean groundbreaking care solutions for millions—if we can clear the hurdles to successful adoption. Here’s what you should know.

The Power of AI in Healthcare
AI offers unprecedented resources in care treatments and management. With the emergence of artificial intelligence processes like machine learning that allow systems to make decisions and adapt through data sets, care providers can seamlessly do their jobs. Additionally, the availability of big data made possible through electronic health records (EHRs) fuel analytical tools that make for better care solutions. Care professionals and data scientists can use AI to assess the use of data sets and chart correlative factors in patients all over the world. This means that care providers are now able to see symptoms, risk factors, and more that’s never been connected previously. This has unlimited potential to improve diagnostic practices and eliminate the 20% of misdiagnoses that affect patients with serious conditions.

In the efforts to combat COVID-19, AI has been especially powerful. A pandemic means big numbers, and little is as effective as AI in collecting, analyzing, and producing actionable results from gathered data. AI is helping to track over 19 million instances of COVID-19 in the U.S. and enabling strategies to inform individuals if they have come into contact with an infected individual. The power of artificial intelligence does not come, however, without its own set of ethical concerns, those of which are already being explored in other industries like marketing. The use of private data can be risky if not securely protected, and every healthcare patient wants to be sure that they can count on their healthcare provider for confidentiality. Luckily, AI also helps in this regard by de-identifying and obscuring data ownership at the storage level to better protect patients. This is but one of the many innovations that are changing the healthcare field.

AI Innovations Changing the Industry
The implications of artificial intelligence for healthcare solutions are incredible, but is AI capable of making a difference now? Across the healthcare industry, these data-driven tools are being integrated to great effect. In some instances, physicians have been able to use AI to help diagnose and treat cancer. In others, technology has offered life-saving insights.

Among the variety of trending innovations transforming healthcare are the following industry-changing tools:

  • Diagnosing Cancer
    Artificial intelligence and machine learning are making waves in cancer diagnostic tools by providing patients with unparalleled accuracy. PathAI, for example, has applied deep learning to cancer screening processes to spot cancerous lesions in breast tissue. As a result, patients are getting better feedback with life-saving implications.
  • Providing Treatments
    AI is instrumental in providing widespread treatment quickly, efficiently, and remotely. Using smart systems, physicians can run a patient’s symptoms through an algorithm that provides likely causes and interprets an ideal treatment plan. Systems like Buoy Health even allow patients to communicate with a chatbot that tracks symptoms and then directs the patient towards the best source of continued care. This has invaluable implications in the pandemic environment and beyond.
  • Improving Insights
    The improvements brought to radiology and diagnostic imaging through deep learning processes are giving care providers an unprecedented understanding of patient needs. Platforms like Enlitic are combining data science with medical software to analyze unstructured medical data and produce real-time insights for patients. With data and expertise now available to patients, care is better than ever.

These smart technologies are changing the way we diagnose and help patients. From powerful analytics to smart chatbots, AI represents the future of healthcare at every step, with results that improve outcomes for millions. But first, we have to clear the hurdles to widespread adoption.

Clearing Hurdles in Healthcare Technology Adoption
Healthcare systems across the world face an abundance of barriers to technology integration at all levels. These barriers prevent better care solutions from making their way to all types of patients, regardless of geographical location or income bracket.

For AI to truly make the kind of impact to the healthcare industry it is capable of, we must advance new technology past hurdles such as:

  • High costs for consumers and providers
  • Adherence to status quo solutions
  • Powerful lobbies for current processes
  • Problematic communication procedures between insurance companies and providers

These hurdles and more complicate the widespread integration of useful AI tools. However, by demonstrating the usefulness of this technology and educating care professionals, everyday patients can begin to receive higher quality, AI-powered care. As a result, lives will be saved and better care solutions can continue to be innovated in the future.