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5 Ways AI Will Transform Healthcare

And Why You Should Care...

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Wouldn’t you want the smartest decision-making tools to support every health choice you make? Leveraging the power of AI can make that possible.

So What is AI Anyway?

The term goes back to 1956, when John McCarthy, a math professor at Dartmouth College, suggested a research project based on the idea that “every aspect of learning or any other feature of intelligence can in principle be so precisely described that a machine can be made to simulate it.” Today AI is being used to “teach” machines to also sense, understand and learn.

Health systems are already using it for administrative and clinical healthcare functions. Doctors and nurses are choosing the best treatment plans and reducing the number of routine tasks they face – with the ultimate goal of giving staff more time to focus on patient care.

Patients are also excited about the use of AI. In a recent Accenture survey, 19% of patients said they had used health tools powered by AI, with even more patients saying they were willing to these adopt technologies in the future.

AI Is Advancing Quickly… But Is It Too Quick?

AI’s popularity in the healthcare market is growing fast. According to Accenture It’s expected to reach $6.6 billion by 2021 up from $600M in 2014 and has the potential to create $150 billion in annual savings by 2026. So it’s little wonder that’s its generated so much excitement.

As a patient I have mixed feelings about AI. While I’m excited about its potential, particularly its ability to improve diagnosis and treatment, I worry about my data. How will it be used, by whom and for what purpose?

With all the current discussion around AI, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, fearful, disappointed or some combination of the three. For me, its often felt mysterious and at times, a bit scary. Data goes in and what comes out can potentially change and even, save lives. However, there’s still much that’s unknown about how it will be used that needs to be better understood before it can be fully implemented. That said, it’s here to stay and will impact us all.

Five Ways AI Will Change Healthcare In The Coming Years:

  1. Improved Diagnosis – AI can quickly analyze large amounts of data, see patterns and identify trends using pre-determined algorithms developed by experts to make diagnoses. However, concerns remain around data privacy as well as accountability issues, if no doctor is involved in the diagnosis.
  2. Reduce Administrative Time and Costs – AI can sift through large amounts of data and help hospital administrators improve performance and better utilize existing resources – generating time and cost savings. This will increase overall productivity and improve outcomes as doctors and nurses shift time previously spent on paperwork to patient care.
  3. Advances in Robotic Surgery – Automation can transform surgery. Surgical robots are able to study the massive amounts of existing information to help perfect the surgical procedures of the future. This will lead to less damage, increased precision, and reduced recovery times for patients.
  4. Clinical Trial Participation – Aside from cutting costs, AI has the potential to improve trial quality and reduce trial times by almost half. It can also help locate the biomarkers and gene signatures that cause diseases and rapidly recruit eligible clinical trial patients, which will help make it possible to find cures for some of the most devastating diseases.
  5. Virtual Nursing Assistants – AI can provide 24/7 patient access to support, round-the-clock monitoring, notifications and quick, personalized answers to questions about medications and other health concerns based on individual needs. The use of AI for virtual nursing can also reduce administrative and operational costs, reduce readmissions and improve medical and financial outcomes.

Bottom Line

AI has many hurdles to overcome before it will be more fully adopted, Concerns about data privacy and usage, the potential for mismanagement of care as well as public fears all need to be addressed in order for it to gain wider acceptance.

It’s clear that AI isn’t perfect. After all, computers are only as smart as the information they receive (and we humans are fallible). However, I believe with time, increased understanding and a whole lot of data, the obvious benefits of AI will eventually outweigh concerns and become part of many aspects of everyday life.

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