AI in Health Care
Artificial intelligence (AI) consists of smart computer programs that can learn from massive data, make conclusions and change their working pattern. They can help with health predictions, diagnosis and even treatment.
Computer AI may be quite smart and even beat humans in many things like playing chess, but it still follows strict rules and cannot make decisions independently. While true artificial intelligence does not exist, programs are smart enough to help us with everyday issues.
Artificial intelligence is not a new thing. Algorithms that could solve problems have existed since the early days of computing. Computers were made for data crunching and problem-solving from day one.
AI differs from conventional algorithms with its deep learning ability. By analyzing a colossal amount of data, AI can recognize patterns, learn from them and make changes to the algorithms. Through this ability to learn and enact patterns, AI-based programs can keep improving.
There have been numerous enabling factors in AI, the most important ones being increased processing speed and availability of massive data due to cloud computing or networks. Progress in other fields of computing has also been helpful in the development of AI, like language processing, image processing and sensing physical movements.
How AI Works
To get a better understanding of how AI works, let’s take an example of a diagnosis of a hand fracture. A doctor can make a diagnosis by analyzing symptoms and looking at the X-ray. Doctors learn the science of diagnosis both through textbooks (logic or algorithm) and experience (data-based learning).
An AI algorithm is created similarly. The program writer feeds information regarding signs and symptoms of bone fracture into the program and creates algorithms. The AI can be programmed to analyze X-ray images — research has shown AI can display accuracy equivalent to a human radiologist when performing focused tasks. Thanks to deep learning, it can keep improving its analytic abilities, thus making a diagnosis. The more the AI system is used, the better it becomes.
As one can guess by now, AI has some benefits over humans. For example, the doctor may take decades to see and learn from a few thousand patients and improve their skills. In contrast, the AI system can learn quickly from millions of case studies already available on the servers in the form of electronic health records. Over time, the AI system can better diagnose and even treat diseases and conditions.
An excellent example of how AI can perform better than human doctors is the Quartz AI, which can take a picture of the retina and predict the risk of heart disease much more quickly and with more accuracy than humans. After all, AI can analyze the data of millions or even billions of patients over time and keep improving itself. The Quartz AI in this study can gather data from a large pool of patients because blood testing is not needed.
Benefits of AI in Health Care
AI offers many benefits for the future of health care, with the heart disease study being only one of many opportunities for quicker and more cost-effective testing and health predictions. Below are more advantages of using this technology to improve medical care:
- Real-time information: AI calculates results faster than human physicians, providing real-time information that can lessen patient wait times and allow for more timely preventive treatment. Real-time data can also help improve patient-physician relationships by keeping diagnoses and treatments transparent and easily accessible for patients. Similarly, doctors can quickly learn of patient emergencies or updates.
- Faster processes: AI can streamline tasks that are normally time-consuming for employees to complete, such as processing payments and claims, performing patient history tracking and scheduling appointments. These administrative tasks are just as important as patient care in helping a medical facility flow efficiently, and letting AI handle them can significantly improve the workflow. For example, an AI program can help employees address inaccurate health insurance claims before they’re denied, saving the time needed for resubmission.
- Preservation of time and resources: By streamlining tasks and catching errors, AI can save medical professionals money and time. The health care sector loses over $260 billion a year to denied claims overall, with medical necessity denials accounting for over $2 billion. Using AI platforms to handle claims management helps prevent employees from spending hours reading billing manuals to ensure alignment with accepted standards and drawing up extensive paperwork for denied claims.
- Increased care access: AI can fill in the gaps that insurance does not cover to provide individuals with greater access to necessary health care. For example, one mammography screening platform powered by AI can be implemented on existing radiology machinery without medical practices needing to buy new equipment. Patients can receive diagnostic mammograms from the same practice they get their annual mammograms from without visiting a specialist, which insurance doesn’t always cover.
AI Applications in Health Care
AI is not a science fantasy — it is already playing a role in some fields of medicine. It is more common than many imagine. To a degree, everyone is using AI, even in developing nations. One field you will often find AI in is hospital medicine. In hospital medicine, AI tools are more commonly used in cardiology, neurology and cancer treatment. These tools are not always overly complex, either — AI can be a simple phone application or a more sophisticated program like IBM Watson.
Other examples of how AI is used in health care include the following:
- AI and wellness: One of the good things about AI is that it can play a huge role in preventive medicine so that patients do not need to see a doctor as often as they usually would. Many apps and smartwatches are already using these technologies to analyze health aspects like lifestyle, sleep quality, level of physical activity and cardiovascular health and make recommendations accordingly. At present, this technology is in its early stages, but with time, it will become more complex.
- Early disease detection: Early detection is another field of interest, as it can save millions of lives. AI is already playing a role in predicting the risk of cancer. Additionally, future wearables will have a greater number of sensors and higher accuracy. Data from these sensors, combined with the power of AI, will help predict metabolic disorders, the risk of cardiovascular diseases and other life-threatening conditions.
- Diagnosis of diseases: AI-based systems can learn from massive data that is already available. Systems like IBM Watson can analyze the data from millions of health records and thus assist in the diagnosis of many conditions. Similarly, Google’s DeepMind Health aims to mimic the brain’s neural networks.
- Decision-making: As AI systems can make better predictions than humans in many cases, they may help with clinical decision-making. Moreover, the AI system can combine data from a broader variety of sources to make such predictions.
- Treatment: AI can help doctors come up with a comprehensive treatment plan and play a role in patient education and management. It can also help improve treatment compliance. Human-operated robots are already doing many complex surgeries, and in the future, these robots will become more independent from human intervention.
- End-of-life care: AI can predict which patients have a higher risk of dying to facilitate earlier end-of-life care, helping patients have more agency in their palliative care. Physicians can more effectively prepare patients and their families with increased time to plan for end-of-life treatment.
- Research: Developing new drugs and treatments is a very complicated task, but AI could accelerate the identification of new medicines by helping scientists discover which molecules are safest for use in human drug therapies.
- Training: One study shows that individuals who were instructed by an AI tutor displayed 35% better performance and retained skills 2.6 times faster.
Will AI Replace Doctors?
In the case of medical care, this does not seem possible in the visible future. It’s well known that automation may make many kinds of jobs redundant, but human physicians are still needed for many aspects of patient care. AI will be more like an assistant rather than completely taking over the doctor role.
Researchers think AI will help improve medicine by doing repetitive and mundane tasks. Nowadays, doctors are too busy, and they do not provide as much attention to the patients because their priority is to give the right diagnosis and treatment. By AI systems offering accurate diagnosis and treatment, doctors can focus more on providing care and communicating with patients. AI will help bring back that human touch to medicine that has been long lost.
Reach out to MicroHealth for Health Care IT Services
The future of AI in health care is only beginning. MicroHealth can help you prepare for these advancements with white-glove IT services from experts well-versed in health care. We can handle any IT-related task your organization needs to be completed, including network creation and support, custom EHR system creation, health care interoperability and cybersecurity protocols.
Our health informatics services and support help you use AI and other tools to streamline information flow and personalize patient experiences, among many other tasks. Connect with us today to start benefiting from our IT and AI health care services.
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