May 7, 2016
One of the many industries that AI (Artificial Intelligence) can transform is healthcare. Since health is such an important thing, enhancements in healthcare industry can have a significant effect on human life. So far one of the major areas in which AI has been used in Healthcare is InsurTech and range of applications improving the complex and massive insurance industry.
At this point healthcare industry is believed to be operating inefficiently on many counts. For example, in 2014, the US Government Accountability Office reported a $77.4 billion in improper payments of Medicare and Medicaid altogether. The payments were made in an incorrect amount and in some cases should not even been made. As a result, they have contributed significantly to excessive healthcare costs.
One of the most logical applications of AI in healthcare is in analyzing patients’ data (over the years) coming from their hospital records. Even today there are some healthcare organizations that rely on paperwork for recording and storing patients’ data. With electronic storage, data management and touch of AI, data can be turned into meaningful insights about possible diseases and linked to history and heritage. However, insights would be as valuable as the quality of data. Initially, it would require significant time, effort and investments to create electronic records of family trees and their health records.
To expand the power of AI and efficiency of healthcare, healthcare organizations should share the records through a single platform in the cloud (taking care of appropriate measures and compliances) to have instant access to any history of treatment irrespective of the healthcare organization.
There are already companies and solutions that are actively exploring opportunities for AI in healthcare. IBM Watson started targeting healthcare several years ago. IBM expects AI to have a great potential in heathcare. The industry is expected to hit $6 billion by 2021 according to some estimations.
Another company that has been involved in healthcare with its AI solution is Google. Google’s DeepMind has been reported to be working with NHS in order to build an application to help hospital staff monitor patients with kidney disease.
There are some interesting use-cases of AI in this field. Application of NLP in automated advising of appropriate medication could save time for doctors. Instead of going to a doctor (and waiting), potential patients with concerns could speak to AI-enabled app that has access to infinite data of diseases and their symptoms. By picking up symptoms from free speech and analyzing them, AI-powered consultant could spare some patients from waiting in line to see their doctor. It is especially helpful for resolving suspicions on some symptoms and as a preliminary diagnosis. Potential patients could record the symptoms and have them available to the doctor instantly opening opportunities for ‘mobile’ doctors and healthcare on a distance.
One of the recent product announcements is a particular implementation of the idea. At the end of April this year, Your.MD, AI-powered Personal Health Assistant that offers personalized and free health advice to everyone with a mobile phone, has revealed the launch of OneStop Health - a new service that enables users to find relevant and trustworthy public and private health services and products to help them get better faster.
From the history of medications and treatments received by patients for particular diseases, AI can also infer opportunities for drug improvement. Based on successful and unsuccessful cases, adding personal records of patients, AI can enhance the medication formulas in response to evolving viruses.
Even the US government has noticed the potential of AI and launched initiatives to explore opportunities for AI in healthcare industry. Some of those initiatives are the Precision Medicine Initiative and the Cancer Moonshot that will depend on AI to identify patterns in medical data. Such projects are aimed to provide doctors with information that leads to better medical care and clinical outcomes.
With growing interest and investments in AI in coming years there will certainly be more scalable and transformative initiatives and solutions to aid healthcare industry in efficiency and accuracy. With tech companies being involved, there is no doubt significant financial and human resources will be dedicated to bring AI into healthcare for common welfare.