In a recent entry, this blog covered some of the more noteworthy ways in which the healthcare industry is leveraging artificial intelligence to improve diagnostic accuracy, develop new treatments and increase the efficiency of nurses and physicians.
These examples indicate the value that AI already offers to both patients and medical professionals. However, it is important to understand that AI is still a fairly new innovation. Many experts suspect that, as the technology improves, new uses for it will continue to emerge.
Although these examples do not represent all the ways in which AI may one day be used in the healthcare industry, they do however represent some of the more significant applications we can expect to become more commonplace in the near future.
Some of the applications listed here may technically already be in development in one form or another. However, at this stage they are not widely used enough to be considered ‘present-day’ uses of AI in healthcare and it will still be several years before these applications become relatively widespread.
Let’s consider the example of robot-assisted surgery. Tests have shown that using AI-equipped robots during surgical procedures can yield a range of benefits. For instance, robots have the ability to make tiny incisions that human surgeons may struggle with, which can improve accuracy during procedures. Additionally, AI-based robots can be used to perform the same procedures multiple times, gathering data about surgical choices during the process. The AI can then analyse this data to determine which surgical choices most frequently lead to positive outcomes. Therefore, when a surgeon begins a procedure that they may not be entirely comfortable with due to lack of experience, the robot can provide them with valuable information, ensuring that they perform each step safely and correctly.
The previous entry in this blog covered how several medical organisations have begun using AI to assist in diagnosing certain conditions. Studies indicate that AI makes diagnoses with the same accuracy as human physicians. Once again, as the technology advances, accuracy is also likely to improve and therefore the frequency of its uses too. For instance, many believe that AI should be used in medical imaging much more often. Specifically, AI can quickly analyse images such as X-rays, identifying abnormalities that might reveal an illness.
This is beneficial in numerous ways. First of all, AI may help physicians to diagnose illnesses earlier than human medical professionals, which makes it easier to offer early treatment to patients. In many instances, receiving early treatment is key to overcoming illnesses.
Using AI in this capacity can also help physicians to work more efficiently. Although it is still necessary for a human physician to confirm an AI’s diagnosis, an AI can analyse patient images more quickly and thoroughly than any doctor can, and can perform this task virtually 24/7. This allows doctors to focus on other tasks, only stopping to confirm that an AI’s assessment of a patient image is accurate. The more tasks that physicians and nurses can complete in a day, the better equipped they will be to provide patients with effective care.
Improved Sleep Patterns
This example may seem misplaced when compared to the other entries in this blog but it is worth including due to the indications that consumer-friendly AI healthcare products will soon become more available.
For example, one company has recently used AI to create a “lullaby” for users by monitoring how they respond to certain rhythms, adjusting the lullaby accordingly. The AI’s goal is to create a personalised song that can help each individual user to fall sleep more easily.
It is easy to overlook the value of this but getting proper rest is essential to one’s health. Unfortunately, many people don’t get nearly as much sleep as they should which leads to a variety of health issues and AI innovations could help to change this.
The Rise of Healthcare Bots
Surgeons and their patients aren’t the only ones who are expected to benefit from the use of AI-equipped bots in the healthcare field. Many also predict that AI health assistants will soon become available to consumers in general. These assistants may take the form of bots with whom patients can “interact with” when they need to schedule an appointment, be reminded to take a medication, conduct a video session with their physician, ask for general medical advice and more. This could be particularly helpful to patients with limited mobility. If they struggle to reach their doctor’s office on a regular basis, such a person could use a bot to facilitate appointments and meet similar needs.
These entries are simply a few noteworthy predictions but it’s likely that innovators will consistently identify new and valuable ways to use AI in healthcare. This is only the beginning.