Artificial Intelligence And Its Key Role In The Healthcare Sector

“The day healthcare can fully embrace AI is the day we have a revolution in terms of cutting costs and improving care.” – Fei-Fei Li

A few real-life scenarios from the healthcare industry:

  • X-ray of hand, with automatic bone age calculation through software
  • Evaluation of outcome of facial surgeries / cleft palate
  • Automatic detection and diagnosis of diseases like Dementia, Cardiovascular disease, Diabetes, etc.
  • Monitoring patient health through wearables, tele media, etc.
  • Natural language processing for maintaining electronic health records

Don’t they seem unreal to exist? But they are not. They do exist and manage healthcare functionalities with ease and effectiveness. Thanks to technology and healthcare software solutions and most of all, integration of one tech giant – Artificial Intelligence – the healthcare industry is booming and going great guns.

“AI will not replace doctors, but instead will augment them, enabling physicians to practice better medicine with greater accuracy and increased efficiency.” – Benjamin Bell

Yes, AI has been heavily instrumental in revolutionizing the healthcare sector. There are multiple advantages that AI has offered to various healthcare segments and functionalities, to the extent of almost replacing the human role. There are opinions that say AI is replacing the role of doctors in many situations which is surely tough to believe but equally tough to ignore, thanks to many proofs that are being circulated.

AI in Healthcare
Courtesy: https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/3-charts-show-where-artificial-intelligence-making-impact-healthcare-right-now

The healthcare industry has been facing a lot of challenges that need a competent technology indulgence to cope with. And, AI has turned up as the knight in shining armor to help the business tackle those hiccups and bounce back with a successful stint.

Key Challenges in the Healthcare Industry

  • Unavailability of resources – general practitioners, specialists, admin staff etc.
  • Less supply of diagnostic equipment and hardware
  • Restricted availability of essential medicines and good quality care
  • Insufficient data collection and analysis techniques
  • Systematic integration of healthcare processes and services
  • Ensuring thorough cybersecurity and protection to private data
  • Leveraging the best of technology-driven services

How is Artificial Intelligence Revolutionizing the Healthcare Industry?

  • Transportable Diagnostics

AI offers low-cost devices that can be easily used in our personal lives, at home, and in community centers. These devices give out a lot of benefits such as forecasting compliance, lifestyle, and dietary symptoms to medical experts and patients alike.

  • On-demand Decision Support

As and when required, the AI techniques, statistical methods, and devices offer a great deal of clinical knowledge for a variety of specialized activities. This offers a lot of support to stakeholders, doctors, patients, and equipment managers. Predictive analytics helps extract potential information, analyze it, and use it as the best possible way to take major decisions with ease.

  • Next-gen Radiology Equipment

One big area in healthcare that has been impacted by AI is the radiology equipment. AI, along with offering best of techniques and machines for MRIs, CT Scans, X-rays, has now come up with tools that can replace the want for tissue sample collection. This gives doctors an added advantage of studying the disease accurately and quickly.

  • Helps People Stay Healthy

Leveraging AI in health-based apps helps people, not necessarily patients always, to maintain, manage and monitor their health, lifestyle, habits and well-being. AI facilitates them to understand their daily patterns, which in turns, helps people lead a healthy lifestyle. It makes them be conscious of their health proactively, leading to lesser troubles in the future.

  • Epidemic Management System

Especially for situations when manpower is in great demand but there is less supply, AI helps big time. For e.g., whenever there is an epidemic, it assists in prediction, control, and analysis of the surrounding parameters to be taken to control the epidemic. It also contributes data for cause-and-effect analysis.

  • Assistance to Doctors in Surgeries, Operations

AI is competent enough to rope in instruments and equipment that can help doctors while they perform surgeries. These could be in the form of robots, machines – both automated and manual. This saves on resources in a big way and smoothens the medical process, ensuring safety and success.

  • Supports Doctors and Medical Staff, Can’t Replace

There is always a tint of human sympathy and emotion that is involved between doctors and patients. Machines are not competent enough to possess that quality. Hence, however much they try, it isn’t possible for machines to replace doctors. Yes, they can be a huge support, lessening the burden on the doctor’s head.

  • Great Assistance to Under-resourced Areas

In areas that have lesser exposure to healthcare resources, AI comes up as great support. AI is capable of replacing work of many humans together. For e.g., whenever there is a spread of disease, AI can work upon identifying the symptoms and diseases in bulk. This can reduce the need for human resources all the time.

  • Playing the Role of a Virtual Nurse

Self-explanatory to the name, AI acts as a great virtual nurse by assisting nurses in monitoring the patient’s health records. Almost like a junior nurse, it assists in almost all activities that a nurse performs. Of course, it cannot replace the human feel, but it acts as a big relief to the healthcare units and their responsibilities.

  • Creating New Drugs and Medicines

AI processes and programs can fasten the process of developing new medicines and drugs. It can check out on existing medicines and find out how it can be used to come up with newer drugs. This way, AI can help in establishing newer drugs for dangerous diseases.

  • Early Prediction of Diseases

Through certain scientific mechanisms and body scans, AI equipment can predict diseases such as cancer, in an early stage. Even AI-based computer programs can help in lessening trivial issues such as back pain, muscle pull, etc. It can also offer good suggestions/tips on dealing with health-related issues and possible solutions such as exercises, yoga, physical therapy, etc. AI algorithms can assist radiologists in finding out malignant tumors and other important health conditions.

  • Intensive R&D

AI helps in speeding up the time and effort from researching for a new drug until it reaches the patient. It is anyways a tedious and lengthy process and hence AI is considered quite vital in making it a fast one. The go-to-market time for newer medicines has gone lower as compared to earlier times, thanks to AI.

  • Real-life Training Experience

Owing to key features of AI like natural simulation, natural speech recognition, instant response to queries, etc., the kind of training experience that it offers is quite human-like. It becomes easy to lessen resources and yet offer a high-level training experience to participants.

Types of Artificial Intelligence Related to Healthcare

AI is a big bunch of many technologies inbuilt that serve different purposes. OF them, here are the major technologies in AI that particularly contribute to the world of healthcare:

  • Machine Learning, Neural Networks and Deep Learning – A direct application of AI that offers the competence to learn and enhance from experience, barring the job of programming. A huge area of investigation that receives concepts from AI and has a direct concentrate on developing computer systems that can retrieve data and utilize it for self.
  • Natural Language Processing – A field of AI that offers machines the capability to read, understand and derive meaning from human languages
  • Rule-based Expert Systems – Simplest form of AI that uses rules as the base of knowledge representation
  • Physical Robots – Machines that behave like humans and perform tasks that humans can, based on AI logic and energy sources
  • Robotic Process Automation – Business process automation based on AI techniques and software robots, creation of RPA bots

Certain Pointers to be Taken Care by Healthcare Industry with AI Implementation

  • It is important to educate all involved stakeholders on AI competencies and challenges, its implementation strategy and intricacies, barring which they could be chances of resentment or mismanagement in implementation.
  • Prior to rolling the AI wave in the healthcare sector, it is vital to have skilled, competent and easily available AI resources as and when needed else there are less chances of a smooth and uninterrupted operation.
  • The healthcare sector is a sensitive and critical business, in which there are certain rules and regulations that must be followed. Make sure your AI functionalities are built keeping in mind those norms right from the start.
  • AI is a new and a tad costly technology. Being unprepared for its costing may lead to trouble implementing it safely and smoothly. Be prepared with the apt cost calculation and budget allocation.
  • Having AI-based software, services and processes in any healthcare segment requires a certain set of hardware, electricity, Internet and infrastructure without which it is impossible to enjoy its benefits. Hence, it is imperative to have all those ready much in advance.

Summing It Up

A critical industry, dealing with human lives – the healthcare industry is a challenging one. And, thanks to Artificial Intelligence and its family of technologies, there is a lot of goodness happening for all stakeholders involved – patients, doctors, nurses, insurance agents, administrators, management etc.

Tomorrow shall witness deeper and integrated AI involvement with healthcare functionalities. Increasing number of organizations are keen to adapt to AI tools and technologies. It shall be an interesting watch to see how AI revolutionizes healthcare!

Ankit K
Ankit, Business Development Manager at SPEC INDIA. He loves to write and share content related to Software Development, Tips, Latest Tech News and Trends in the IT Industry and more...
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