Emergence of AI and Data Driven Healthcare

Healthcare is on the cusp of profound change, and the engine that is driving that change is Big Data. Whether it is granting patients and their caregivers more access to their medical information or using emerging technologies like artificial intelligence to develop more effective therapies, data driven healthcare holds enormous promise.

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial Intelligence or AI is a computer system that performs tasks that typically only a human has been capable of performing such as analyzing visual imagery, recognizing and responding to speech, or decision-making. There have been several standards postulated that a machine would have to attain to be classified as “intelligent”, with perhaps the most famous being the Turing Test in which it is impossible to distinguish between an AI and a human being.

Within the healthcare space, artificial intelligence is primarily used in the presentation, analysis, or comprehension of complex medical data. The ultimate purpose of artificial intelligence in healthcare is to optimize patient outcomes by leveraging available data. What makes artificial intelligence different from traditional healthcare data management is its ability to collect huge amounts of data, analyze it and produce cogent, verifiable conclusions.

Another key characteristic that distinguishes artificial intelligence from other kinds of computer systems is machine learning. Machine learning is the ability to derive patterns from exposure to significant quantities of data without prior algorithmic programming. The artificial intelligence is not only able to recognize patterns in data, but it is also able to predict future events based on newly available data points.

Why the Healthcare Industry Is Adopting AI

It is obvious why healthcare providers are so eager to adopt AI: these high-tech systems offer powerful insights across the sector and organizations that optimize efficiency and patient care. There is a common saying in medicine that half of healthcare is useless—the difficulty is in recognizing which half. Despite the continual advances in healthcare technology, enterprise management and clinical practices, there remains a great deal of truth in this quotation.

Artificial intelligence can optimize almost all these aspects of healthcare. From improving and speeding up diagnostics to developing an optimized treatment plan, AI is poised to revolutionize patient care. It may be considerably less necessary to consult with medical specialists about a health condition if an artificial intelligence is available to provide comparable advice. This would save the patient and the provider time, resources, and money.

Furthermore, an AI could offer greater visibility and efficiency across organizational silos that would reduce redundancy and waste. A primary example of this is a surge due to an infectious disease. Instead of multiple clinicians treating a seasonal or emerging outbreak without collaborating with colleagues, an artificial intelligence could alert frontline professionals, allowing them to share information and resources more effectively.

Finally, AI promises to bring online more therapies at an accelerated rate. Experts predict that artificial intelligence could help in drug development by assisting in the design of new drugs as well as identifying potent new drug combinations.

Latest AI Applications in Healthcare

Some of the most intriguing and exciting applications for artificial intelligence in healthcare include

  • Virtual nursing aides—to relieve the enormous burdens on nurses, AI programs could take over many of the more mundane responsibilities including fielding patient questions and monitoring patients. This could be performed with patients both in a clinical setting as well as outside of one, and it could be done 24/7. It is estimated that virtual nursing assistants could save the healthcare industry more than $20 billion a year.
  • Diagnostics—artificial intelligence has proven quite capable of diagnosing patients, sometimes even more accurately than human physicians. One study by Stanford University found that an AI could identify skin cancer at least as well as dermatologists. Another study involving a Danish AI found that the AI could detect cardiac arresting patients 93 percent of the time, compared to only 73 percent among human emergency call dispatchers. A Baidu Research study determined that an artificial intelligence could more accurately diagnose metastasized breast cancer than a human oncologist. If these success rates can be maintained in clinical settings, then innumerable lives can be saved.
  • Administration—an enormous fraction of healthcare costs is related to performing administrative tasks like ordering tests, filling out drug prescriptions and completing patient charts. Instead of having physicians performing these duties, they could just dictate to an AI. In addition to rote tasks, AI programs have already demonstrated that they are quite capable of analyzing huge amounts of patient treatment data as well as published medical papers and generating successful treatment plans.
  • Robotic surgery—studies reveal that AI-guided robotic surgery can reduce hospital stays by 21 percent. By analyzing the patient’s pre-operative information as well as data from other patient procedures, the AI can suggest optimized surgical techniques. One study of 379 orthopedic patients concluded that an AI-guided robotic surgery was five times less likely to result in complications. Not only does artificial intelligence offer innovations in surgical techniques, but a robotic surgeon enables greater precision and reliability.
  • Drug design—it is estimated that it takes, on average, 12 years to get a drug from experimental concept to the patient, and only 1 in 1,000 drugs that enter pre-clinical trials are ever approved for patient use. Obviously, this is a frustrating and expensive process that artificial intelligence could greatly simplify by helping to identify the most promising drug designs without years of expensive testing.
  • Healthcare system analysis—human error is one of the leading causes of patient injury, so it benefits everyone to install artificial intelligences that can monitor entire healthcare sectors and pinpoint unsafe situations that contribute to human mistakes. AI analytics can also be used to identify and resolve workflow stoppages in a healthcare system. This has proven quite effective in countries like the Netherlands which has largely converted to electronic health records, so such analytics could be replicated in other countries that are also making the transition to EHR.

Article written by: Dr. Robert Moghim – CEO/Founder Colorado Pain Care

M.D. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the personal views of Robert Moghim, M.D. and do not necessarily represent and are not intended to represent the views of the company or its employees.  The information contained in this article does not constitute medical advice, nor does reading or accessing this information create a patient-provider relationship.  Comments that you post will be shared with all visitors to this page. The comment feature is not governed by HIPAA, and you should not post any of your private health information.