According to WHO reports, the presence of chronic disease is expected to reach 57 percent by 2020. This means that adequate steps have to be taken to keep diseases under control and also monitor patients. Additionally, advancements in detection and diagnosis will help minimize healthcare costs. These would also result in increased contact between healthcare professionals and patients to reduce susceptibility to diseases and reduce unnecessary hospital visits. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been employed in various areas of healthcare today, and future developments and enhanced deployment of AI in healthcare are expected to be a boon for healthcare in the forthcoming years.
Current AI Trends in Healthcare
AI has been leveraged by healthcare professionals to improve diagnosis. AI aided medical diagnosis has been used by healthcare providers to enhance the reading of CT scans and x-rays. Hospitals in China have developed a technology to detect suspicious lesions and nodules in patients with lung cancer to provide early diagnosis.Big data analytics combined with AI has enabled analyzing early detection of diseases and also helps in making clinical decisions.
Healthcare bots present in many mobile messaging apps increase patient engagement by exchanging information through messages. Additionally, they can answer health-related queries and also aid medication management for patients. Healthcare bots have also been developed to detect emotions and engage empathetically with patients; recognize photos, handwritten notes and barcodes; and other advancements to enhance the patient's user experience.
Expectations from AI in the Future
Patients who think they require medical advice can contact a nurse at a telehealth center. Then, the data uploaded through smartphones or smart sensors in real-time would be used by AI-driven systems to suggest the course of action. Additionally, if the patients are sufficiently unwell, the patients can visit a medical clinic wherein they would be checked by a practitioner. A complete medical history of the patient would be available to the practitioner through a universally available EHR. For further complications when a hospital visit cannot be avoided, AI will unquestionably be present in all patients’ rooms which would be like a mini ICU. These patients will have multiple screens around them that are AI-driven to provide patient details and also to interact with patients.
AI algorithms will be used to adjust the human medical staffing ratio for each patient through a continually updated EHR. Doctors will update this EHR through natural language voice recognition software. And, the patients would control the EHR which has comprehensive details of their health.
Patient Alerts will be calibrated to distinguish the seriousness of the disease. This will assist the doctor in segregating the patients.
Furthermore, the doctor will also be assisted by the algorithms to provide evidence-based treatment and precision medicine. AI applied to cloud-based big data would enable doctors to compare and contrast the treatments offered to other patients with similar ailments.
Threats Posed by AI
Being a relatively new technology, the reliability and accuracy of AI cannot be determined. This puts patients at risk of being wrongly diagnosed or treated and poses other health-related risks. Furthermore, the doctor will not be able to depend entirely on AI and would require their own expertise to make various decisions.
The security of AI has to be enhanced to ensure that the sensitive information stored by it is securely stored away from the wrong hands. This information, if it gets leaked, would not only put the patients’ lives at risk but would also result in identity thefts.
AI-driven systems are only as good as the information that it learns. Therefore, these systems have to be trained so that they are constantly updated about new or unusual health problems.
Obstacles for AI in the Future
One of the main hurdles for AI would be its adoption. Healthcare professionals would have to be educated about the need for AI. They should also be made comfortable to work in an environment where AI is present. Many doctors would not be open to the information provided by a machine, and they would have to be educated to accept AI.
Compliance with FDA regulations can be another major problem. Currently, with AI being only partially understood, the amount of importance that has to be given AI would also be a question that lurks in the minds of the FDA personnel.
Future for AI in Healthcare
AI is expected to enhance healthcare for both patients and doctors. Clubbed with big data analytics, AI could yield faster and accurate diagnoses. Patients who do not have access to proper medical facilities can leverage AI for treatments. All this would result in decreased healthcare costs.
In spite of all these, the threats posed by AI cannot be neglected. More validations have to be undertaken before AI can be used in diagnoses. It is still a long way to go before AI can be effectively included in healthcare.