Artificial Intelligence is one of the greatest technologies developed by man. Even though it hasn’t been fully able to replicate the way a human brain works, it is pretty much doing a lot with its existing capabilities. Artificial intelligence is not just bringing advancements to the world for the sake of it, but truly transforming different industries along with enhancing the quality of life for humans.
It is amazing to look back to the time around the 1940s when AI was just a concept and people feared its proliferation. They thought that if AI grew mostly in the form of humanoid robots, it would cause a great deal of threat to the existing human population. So, Issac Asimov, an American writer, and professor of biochemistry at Boston University came up with his three popular laws of robotics. Out of the three, it was his very first law stating the fact that AI would affect human beings via direct interaction- and this might be for the good or evil.
But, here we are today watching AI penetrate all walks of life and making it seamless in various aspects. Even though the debate of whether AI will one day take over the world or not continues, it is a distant hypothesis we will all watch unfurl. But, getting back to today’s generation, artificial intelligence is not just a technology but a key to looking into the future and understanding what might happen. Consider it as a crystal ball, where you throw in large amounts of data and it gives you the answers that you’re seeking.
Even though we live in the age of supercomputers and talk about reaching the most distant of planets in the solar system, we are far behind when it comes to the healthcare industry. There are more than a few challenges yet to find their solutions. Be it providing health care in remote areas, diagnosing diseases in a better manner, prescribing medicines that have no side effects or coming up with a course of treatment for a patient. The opportunities in the healthcare sector are unlimited.
Technology is an indispensable part of the healthcare industry. Especially ever since artificial intelligence started being utilized for healthcare, things have improved to a great extent. There are no questions that AI is moving swiftly in the industry and lighting up every corner that it touches. It was only a while back that experts in healthcare were discussing ideas that could be made possible with artificial intelligence in the picture. And that would still take another decade or 15 years to unfold. But, with the pace that artificial intelligence is being adopted in the industry, the future doesn’t seem so far.
Taking a look at the statistics, 54 percent of the Healthcare IT Services Professionals estimate that artificial intelligence is likely to be widespread in the industry by the year 2023. Moreover, close to 20 percent of these professionals also believe that it will take less than two years for the AI to reach its full-scale adoption. Even today, 37 percent of healthcare organizations are using artificial intelligence within their organizations for widespread tasks. The most common of these is the clinical applications of AI, with 77 percent of the people leveraging it for decision making, risk scoring, and medication safety warnings along with other patient-facing tasks. Similarly, there are 44 percent of people are utilizing AI for operational tasks, while only 26 percent of people are taking their financial problems using AI.
The 2019 World Medical Innovation Forum even took time to celebrate the rapid progress and the scope of unprecedented opportunities in the healthcare industry, mostly for working in the niche and improving the care of patients with routine as well as rare conditions. But, even though we are living in a world where there is an abundance of data, it all comes down to finding ways it can be utilized for improving the current status of things in the healthcare industry. The point is that artificial intelligence is maturing and it is the right time to carry out digital transformations. This is because of many factors like data interoperability is starting to improve and the drivers of the consumer-focused healthcare are getting stronger.
While this is only the beginning of how experts envision AI impacting the healthcare industry, there is a long way for AI to travel so that healthcare costs are lowered and outcomes are significantly improved.
With the advancement in other technological parameters such as infrastructure, data storage, and algorithm development, the time-frame for the proliferation of artificial intelligence has shortened to a great extent for healthcare. For immediate improvements in the industry, AI is supporting radiologists as well as enhancing the impact of the patient’s voices in their own healthcare along with having an impact on the quality and accuracy of the healthcare.
The current capabilities of AI seem connecting human intelligence along and clinical expertise with the unparalleled power of data processing derived from deep learning algorithms and advanced neural networks. It is surely opening-up a fresh frontier for precise and personalized diagnostics along with treatment. However, it is not enough for rare diseases like cancers or one in a million genetic conditions. Constance Lehman, MD, PhD, chief of the breast imaging division at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and a professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School highlights the point that our current set of tools to predict future risks are not accurate.
For example, for breast cancer, the emphasis of the diagnostics is still on late-stage diagnosis. And this is mostly because we are not screening as comprehensively as we should. Similarly, even those patients who are getting mammography at regular intervals are not receiving uniform high-quality care from radiologists. While the human interpretation of images is highly subjective, there is a sincere shortage of people who can read these images with high standards. Moreover, statistics suggest that 40 percent of certified breast imaging radiologists perform outside of the recommended ranges of the standard specificity while they designate only less than 10 percent of the tissues as dense.
But, with deep learning techniques in the picture researchers can use full resolution mammographic images and predict the likelihood of women developing breast cancer. They have the potential to do more with less, and that too with greater accuracy. An algorithm that is merely trained on 70,000 images can consistently outperform the commonly used risk model, even without any other data about the patient. If just by looking at the images AI has the potential to do so much, imagine what will happen if we provide it with additional relevant information about the patient.
But, in spite of all the benefits, there is a lot of hype around artificial intelligence ad its subsidiaries. This is why experts must be cautious when speaking about AI, its current possibilities and future prospects. Trust and acceptance are two of the biggest obstacles for AI, especially among medical experts who are not ready to change their traditional workflows. Therefore, education and spreading awareness will be one of the biggest challenges and the key to implementing AI in the healthcare industry.
Researchers and experts who are working on artificial intelligence implementation for the healthcare industry don’t work with the aim of replacing existing physicians, technicians or radiologists. They aim to make their tasks much simpler and more accurate, ultimately leading to the benefit of the patient. AI with the healthcare industry is only helping the former reach towards its fundamental goal- saving and improving the quality of life for people.