Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare: Transforming medicine and saving lives

By : |September 18, 2019 0

The world has witnessed rapid development in the field of Artificial Intelligence, resulting in a great wave of technological advancements in all aspects of human life. Right from basic needs such as food processing to the complex process involving robotics, AI has become an inevitable part of our present and future. AI is also capable of a far more noble use in healthcare that goes beyond making life simpler and businesses cost-effective. The application of AI in administering healthcare and improving diagnostics can help treat complex and critical diseases, as well as make long drawn out and exhaustive procedures less cumbersome.

Artificial Intelligence enables the evolution of healthcare to an extent where medical treatments, operations, and procedures become more proactive and effective. To understand this further, it is important to understand the impact of AI in healthcare across three categories that are helping shape and transform the industry and save not just lives, but also time, effort, and money.

The first type is descriptive AI, which has the highest short-term potential. It can be used in detecting anomalies, identifying trends, etc. For instance, it can identify patterns in fracture detection or skin lesions.

The second type is predictive AI, which can help analyze heart rates vis-à-vis ECG and predict heart attacks. It can be a game-changer for the field of cardiology and help save countless lives.

The third type of Artificial Intelligence, which is prescriptive AI can act as a cognitive agent that can apply the most current clinical knowledge to aid in improving system efficiency. Personalized patient care management is one such example of Prescriptive AI in which various data points are gathered from various electronic medical records, insurance claims, and demographics of the patient.

We will briefly go through different applications to illustrate how the three types of AI and its impact on different healthcare segments.

Descriptive Artificial Intelligence – “What has happened?”

Descriptive AI is all about deriving valuable insights from the previous incidents and use this information to aid the healthcare professional to take a decision in the present.

AI can rapidly boost all the spectrums of medicine with its insights and superior intelligence. It can change the quality of healthcare and help hospitals give the best possible supervision to their patients, with all the comforts and facilities ranging from remote monitoring and operation of hospital beds, edge analytics on patients’ vital signs for anomaly detection and sleep diagnostics as well as neural analysis.

AI can be a great asset in the field of oncology and radiology and can help with image analysis for faster diagnosis of cancer and other deadly diseases. A faster and more accurate image analysis algorithm can completely transform orthopedics with operations like knee replacement.

Beyond detection and quicker algorithms, AI has also attained state as an integral part of surgical devices of tomorrow. Its intelligence can be used to make state of the art inflation devices necessary for a successful surgery.

Predictive Artificial Intelligence – “What could happen?”

Predictive AI uses forecasting methods and attempts to predict the possible outcomes.

With the help of AI, the critical process of childbirth, right from the initial stages of pregnancy, can be made more refined and sophisticated. By making use of predictive analytics, assessing the health of the mother and the baby can be made more foolproof thereby providing a safe, complication-free delivery and a healthy child. In this context, AI equipped advanced ultrasound scanners can monitor, assess and detect the smallest details in the womb during pregnancy. With the help of AI, one can monitor every aspect, right from the most minor defects or abnormalities to an advanced stage. It can also help mothers avoid pregnancy complications and help spot any disturbance during the conception period.

AI could be significantly leveraged to predict the risk of type 2 diabetes of people based on their body parameters like amino acids levels, family history, BMI, etc. years before people experience real symptoms of diabetes. This could be of significant value in enabling healthcare professionals to suggest suitable lifestyle changes which may either prevent them from getting diabetes or at least delay the condition.

Prescriptive Artificial Intelligence – “What should we do?”

Finally, the prescriptive AI – which uses optimizations and simulations and helps in getting recommendations about possible options to take action. The recent lot of descriptive AI systems have come up with dashboards and metrics that could allow us to measure the efficiency of hospital operations. With the prescriptive AI systems coming up, we could expect AI agents help us in resource planning and organization to take us to unprecedented levels of operational efficiency.

Furthermore, AI has a monumental impact on the healthcare ecosystem and can also singlehandedly take on gigantic tasks like personalized health treatments and therapies in the future. This would facilitate patients with the attention and care they need, irrespective of the staffing limitations of the ward, and help boost recovery in rapid, effortless and unforeseen ways.

AI is also an integral tool when it comes to cyber security in healthcare. The sector is becoming increasingly interconnected, digital, and mobile but the rapid permeation of digitalization in the industry has also exposed the medical practice to the susceptibility of cyber-attacks and threats. However, the onslaught of AI can fight this battle and help curb the issue. It can also help in dealing at different stages of threat penetration and assess the damage and provide counter actions for the same.

Access to healthcare by the masses living in rural areas is another major issue that the sector is facing. The rural population remains consistently disadvantaged when it comes to receiving the best healthcare services. Insufficient manpower at health facilities, inadequate funding, and poor governance continue to hinder equitable access to affordable or free healthcare. AI can help merge this gap with telemedicine delivery models that can close the glaring gap between patient demand and provider supply.

Summary

While the true capabilities of AI have not been discovered yet, it can be a lifesaver for millions of people on the planet It is already aiding in the recovery, treatment, and diagnosis to benefit countless humans suffering from various illnesses. It can bridge the gap between traditional medicinal practices and technological needs of the future and help meet practical needs of the hour with agile solutions that will transform the healthcare industry and help doctors efficiently and seamlessly serve patients.

By Muralidhara Hosahalli, Global Head, Medical & Life Sciences at L&T Technology Services

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