Technology in Healthcare
“Prevention is better than cure”. This cannot be truer when it comes to the healthcare industry. A sector that strives to improve at a rapid rate can do so faster with the help of technology.
Technology has become a part of our daily lives, from smartphones that sync our calendars and remind us about our meetings to applications that can predict cells that are potentially cancerous.
Technological innovations in healthcare are disruptive innovations that we need to create more robust treatment facilities for patients and the population in general.
AI and ML have already made their way into our daily lives when it comes to tracking basic health or fitness. Major trends in the wearable fitness technology market include smartphone applications (apps) and advanced data analysis, advanced sensors, integration and implantation of technology with and in the human body, and specific-purpose wearables. Companies are developing advanced apps with advanced data analysis features.
The wearable fitness technology market was worth USD 5.77 billion in 2016 and USD 12.44 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 13.7% from 2016 to 2022 as per a report by MarketsandMarkets.
According to Accenture, AI applications may end up saving USD150 billion for the healthcare industry by 2026. Some of the key areas in which AI can fulfil the demand for clinicians include robot-assisted surgery, virtual nursing assistant, administrative workflow, cybersecurity, preliminary diagnosis, etc.
Artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to do work more efficiently and at reduced costs, as opposed to manual operations.
Apps using Artificial Intelligence can help users in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, be proactive and give healthcare workers and doctors a general overview of the individuals health before any particular treatment or diagnosis. In turn – leading to better decision making and fasters chances of diagnosis.
More importantly, AI can be used to perform predictive analysis and give the idiom “Prevention is better than cure” a higher success rate.
How can AI help?
1. Diagnostics & Prognosis
AI applications can be used to leverage the large volumes of existing data about medical conditions, rare diseases, medicine and previous success rates to help design solutions to create new medications, therapies, health plans, etc.
Doctors and pathologists can make better decisions about diagnosis on the basis of data available to them. The amount of data that a machine learning-enabled system can process is much more than any human being, however experienced or intelligent!
2 great examples include: IBM’s Watson for Health and Google’s DeepMind Health. They are helping healthcare providers apply cognitive technologies to diagnose medical conditions based on a huge amount of data that they can store.
2. Testing New Drugs / Drug Discovery
Covid-19 has presented a new race for the pharmaceutical and drug industry to create the first and most effective vaccine. This is a great situation to apply the disruptive impacts AI could have in the race to the finish.
Testing new drugs and therapies is a slow, resource-intensive, and time-consuming process because it is manual. Artificial Intelligence can be used to intervene in every stage of the clinical trial, from identifying patients to creating testing regimens and analyzing preliminary reports. Automating these basic tasks can help reduce cycle time drastically and hence the cost/effort required.
For example, BioXcel Therapeutics uses AI to identify and develop new medicines in the fields of immuno-oncology and neuroscience. The company’s drug re-innovation program employs AI to find new applications for existing drugs or to identify new patients.
3. Patient Risk Identification
Hospitals maintain vast amounts of historical patient data. Artificial Intelligence can be used to analyse the lifetime health records to identify patients who are at risk/potential risk.
AI would enable doctors to identify patterns that put someone at risk due to deteriorating lifestyle, health conditions, or environment enabling solutions to provide real-time support with greater precision.
CloudMedX, a San Francisco based company, uses machine learning to generate insights for improving patient journeys throughout the healthcare system.
The company’s technology helps hospitals and clinics manage patient data, clinical history and payment information by using predictive analytics to intervene at critical stages in the patient care experience.
Healthcare providers can use these insights to efficiently move patients through the system without any of the traditional confusion.
4. Virtual Nursing Assistants
As the pandemic took over and many countries locked-down, the impact was felt by several people with medical conditions that need constant support assistance, especially the elderly.
AI based solutions such as chat bots, interactive apps combined with the input of patient history can track and assist people by, for example, providing support to ageing patients, checking their daily health care routines like exercising, taking health supplements, or following prescribed meal schedules, etc.
Babylon uses AI to provide personalized and interactive healthcare, including anytime face-to-face appointments with doctors. The company’s AI-powered chatbot streamlines the review of a patient’s symptoms, then recommends either a virtual check-in or a face-to-face visit with a healthcare professional.
As mentioned earlier, the fitness industry is booming with the assistance of AI based apps. Furthermore to go hand in hand in fitness tracking is the nutrition industry.
Apps such as Healthifyme, which allows you to track your food consumption at a macro level and provides exercises, and sends you real-time insights & automated analytics on your health are on the rise. In 2017 they launched “Ria”, an AI nutritionist who learned from 10 million messages and over 200 million food and workout logs. Ria was announced as the world’s first AI-powered virtual nutritionist.
6. General Well Being
Another example of the technological growth in this healthcare industry is applications for women to track their menstrual cycles, where a woman can try her cycle days, symptoms and the app is then able to predict potential mood swings and changes in cycle based on the data you give it.
Diving deeper into technology and its direct impact on tracking and monitoring day to day health, here are applications that help cope with mental health – AI based apps such as Webot and Yopper are AI based chatbots which take input from individuals and provide the appropriate support, tool and suggest coping mechanisms needed for that person based on their input.
It can be easily said that AI solutions can lead to better outcomes and overall improve efficiency and productivity of treatment delivery. With the increased use and integration of AI into this sector, doctors can offer better and faster diagnosis and treatment in life-threatening situations.
While one may argue that technology has taken over our lives, in this particular application of technology – it has the potential to save lives. In a country like India with a vast population spread across urban jungles to the unheard remote rural villages, AI can reach the doorstep of the entire population.
Check out these 5 examples of AI we explored to indicate just how powerful and useful AI really is for healthcare which look at AI technologies for accurate cancer diagnosis, symptom checker, advanced medical diagnosis, cancer detection, and faster diagnosis.