AI in the Healthcare Industry: What to Expect in 2018
There is no doubt that artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming industries and businesses rapidly. With new intelligent products and ideas appearing on a near monthly basis, AI has definitely been the prominent trend of the past few years — and this year, it is really picking up the pace. This year, we’re seeing large scale developments and opportunities specifically in the healthcare industry.
Today, AI products in the healthcare industry assist in the support, diagnosis and treatment of people in residential and healthcare facilities across the world, and more innovations are already on the horizon, promising improved health outcomes and better control over our daily health needs.
To better prepare for how AI is transforming the healthcare industry, we’ve done our research. Below are a few things that we expect from healthcare and AI technology in 2018.
Healthcare and AI in 2018
Health Monitoring and Long-Term Care
One of the most persistent challenges faced across the globe is that of long-term healthcare. With an aging global population and limited resources, the demand for long-term care is on the rise. While hospitals and hospices are built to handle serious short-term health problems, they are inefficient when it comes to the long-term care of large numbers of people with chronic conditions.
AI solutions are uniquely able to handle these challenges, with the ability to be installed in the home or in the body to monitor a patient’s condition. Instead of tracking a patient’s situation in the hospital, doctors can monitor patient conditions as they live in their own homes. This is already seen today with PaceMakers that feed live data to a patient’s caretaker and alert the caretaker if the patient’s heart stops or shows signs of distress.
Apps are also being used for this purpose, including products that remind people with chronic conditions to take their medication or update their caretakers on their condition. We’ll likely see similar technology appear over the next few years that further incorporates AI into patient treatment plans for long-term care.
Processing Data on a Large Scale
One of AI’s biggest advantages is its ability to process big data- fast and efficiently. The expansion of health research in recent years has been massive, resulting in thousands of journal articles being published for each healthcare specialty on an annual basis. At the current rate, experts predict the total amount of available healthcare data will swell to trillions of gigabytes by 2020. With this rate of expansion, it’s unrealistic to expect human doctors to keep up with the latest research, no matter how capable or intelligent they are, which is why many are turning to AI as a solution.
With the computational power to support it, AI may well turn into a global healthcare resource, compiling and processing healthcare data and comparing it to the latest research for diagnostic and research purposes. There are already examples of this in the modern world, such as IBM’s Watson and how it is used to help oncologists develop treatment plans for cancer patients, and IBM’s Medical Sieve, which assists in clinical decision–making in radiology and oncology. Shortly, we may see this powerful tool brought to an individual level with phone and computer applications.
People search millions of questions every day in search engines, and on sites like WebMD, trying to find answers to common symptoms. Without talking to your doctor directly, it’s tough to find a straight answer, or even a good place to start. AI chatbots are set to transform the healthcare industry by processing natural language in users queries. Based on the information, the chatbot could ask follow-up questions. If the AI chatbot is able to gather enough information, they can provide relevant resources or responses. Of course, utilizing chatbots in the healthcare industry needs to be evolved slowly. With the sensitive information provided, and degree of reliance on finding the right treatment, chatbots will need to be well-developed before healthcare companies can officially adopt the technology.
Medical Information Technology
Healthcare IT development has also seen extensive growth in the past few years, focusing on developing medical platforms to improve the quality of care for patients. The most recent healthcare information technology, however, has focused on developing more comprehensive solutions that will not only enhance the quality of care for patients but also work toward preventative care. This is where AI, robotics and virtual and augmented reality have come into play.
iHealth assistant apps are the current form of this continuation of care. For example, Babylon released an application that provides medical AI consultation for subscribers, using the personal medical history of the patient, in combination with common medical knowledge, to recommend an appropriate course of action. Similar apps, like Sense.ly, provide health assistance and medication management services for people with chronic conditions. Over time, we may well see the AI in these apps continue to improve, providing more comprehensive advice and care for patients.
These are just a few possibilities for what we may see in the near future when it comes to artificial intelligence in healthcare. AI has incredible potential in the field of healthcare, and we may see it take unexpected turns in the coming year. All we need is to keep an open mind and be willing to take on these new and exciting developments.
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