The rapid commercialization of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning has contributed to its widespread adoption across industries. Healthcare too has been wooed by the charm of AI and had adopted it to solve a host of problems for patients and the entire healthcare ecosystem.

According to a study by Frost & Sullivan, the AI market for healthcare is expected to reach $6.6 billion by 2021 from USD 7,988.8 million in 2016, reporting an almost 40% growth rate.

Growing digital capacities and a focus on Health IT to improve patient outcomes and increase efficiencies of the healthcare ecosystem, growing healthcare data and increasing adoption of precision medicine can be considered some of the reasons fuelling this growth. A recent report from Accenture further goes on to say that AI is rewiring the modern conception of healthcare delivery with a vast array of AI application geared to save the healthcare industry over $150 billion in the course of the next decade.

Artificial Intelligence is the science of creating computing systems that can complete tasks independently of human intervention. The algorithms used in AI systems have vast amounts of data and self-learning capabilities to provide a solution or a response to a particular question.

In this blog, let’s take a look at how AI is transforming healthcare

Improved Medical Decision Making

AI can be used in hospitals to improve the quality of medical diagnostics. AI systems have the capability to scan through humongous volumes of documents within a span of moments. Since these systems have analytical and reasoning capabilities, these systems can access the most recent and cutting edge medical information from anywhere in the world and provide these results to the doctors to help research and diagnosis. These capabilities can be very useful especially in areas where test and lab results need to be processed faster. For example, the radiologists in Shanghai Changzheng Hospital are utilizing AI technology to read CT scans and x-rays to identify suspicious nodules and lesions in lung cancer patients. The AI system learns the core characteristics of lung cancer and identifies cancer features through CT sequencing. This leads to faster diagnosis and helps the doctors start the treatment process faster.

Effective Data Management

With the rise of internet-enabled communications, we are drowning in a sea of data. The healthcare industry too is becoming data reliant to acquire new information, knowledge, and insights. With the volume of biomedical data approaching a staggering 100–250 exabytes, with an annual growth rate of 1.2 to 2.4 exabytes, AI systems are being effectively used to mine, gather, and store these continuously growing patient data volumes to provide intelligent insights. Owing to its technological capabilities, AI systems can be used to not only conduct basic data searches but can also be utilized to analyze large volumes of raw data and aid medical research and development.

Improved Hospital Management

Artificial Intelligence can be used in healthcare to increase the efficiency of the entire healthcare network. These systems have the capabilities to manage the entire healthcare ecosystem in real-time and, hence, can be extremely useful in identifying any inefficiency or issues in the healthcare network faster. With the help of these insights, hospital management can become more efficient since process lags, inefficiencies of different departments, incorrect distribution of pharmaceuticals, billing inconsistencies, and inefficient staff utilization can be highlighted proactively. AI can also be used to identify when patients are likely to take a turn for the worse and thereby assist in decreasing mortality rates and patient readmissions.

Optimize Doctor-Patient Interactions

The World Health Organization estimates that over 400 million people across the globe do not have access to the most basic medical facilities. As populations continue to grow as does the worldwide shortage of clinical staff, mobile technology coupled with AI can solve the problem. IBM’s Watson supercomputer has already established its credibility by diagnosing the precise condition affecting a leukemia patient in Japan by cross-referencing the patient’s information with 20 million oncology records within a matter of minutes. AI systems, because of their computing power aide the advancement of preventive medicine.

Along with this, AI systems can also help in optimizing doctors’ schedules by ensuring the most urgent messages reach them faster. Doctors can use AI apps for post operative care such as provide medication alerts, assess a patient’s mental state and assess if human medical intervention is required to treat an ailment.

Online Consultations

Accenture estimates that virtual nursing assistants will help in saving over $20 billion to the healthcare industry. AI powered voice-driven applications will help patients answer questions regarding their health and assist in health management. These applications can help in chronic disease management and long-term maintenance, assess patients’ conditions, offer education and insights regarding their health and also assess them for risk.  If needed, these AI applications can also let the patients know when they need to go to the hospital and answer all patients’ questions. All such things can help in reducing patient-physician interaction times and reduce healthcare costs for patients.

Robotic Assisted Surgery

AI is also entering the operating room! Many hospitals are leveraging robotic assisted surgery where automation is replacing repetitive tasks and helping in reducing the surgery time. The robot used in these surgeries act as the doctor’s assistants and help in improving patient safety by taking over the tedious and more routine parts of the operation. Cognitive robots can take pre-operative medical information and integrate it with real-time operating metrics and increase the physician’s instrument precision. In one such operation, it was noticed that an autonomous robot could sew more evenly and consistently than the most experienced surgeon.  Much like autonomous cars, the use of AI in the operating room is also increasing incrementally, however with human intervention.

AI is quite contrary to the images of rogue machines and terminators that come to mind when we speak of this technology. Today, Artificial Intelligence is slowly becoming the core of every application. As AI applications get more experience in healthcare, their ability to self-improve will lead to greater precision, increased hospital efficiency and improved patient outcomes.