With digital health products being used at an increasing rate, it’s important to stay aware of changing trends and how they are affecting healthcare overall. Though changes are occurring on many fronts, one of the most common is the continued use of artificial intelligences within digital health products and applications.
Artificial intelligence (AI) tools could prove to be the driving force for continued improvements throughout the healthcare system. Let’s explore some of the ways AI could help to change things in healthcare and how they might be applied in the next decade or so.
Uses of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare Now
Artificial intelligences (AIs) are already being used within our healthcare system, but not always in the way they are traditionally conceived. Most AIs in hospitals are being used to help doctors and other providers understand and organize vast amounts of data, helping them to make quicker and more accurate diagnoses.
These AIs can collect data from millions of patients (including things like symptoms, treatment methods and their outcomes, and survival rates). AIs are capable of synthesizing a vast amount of information and identifying even the smallest of patterns or trends. Some AIs can now predict health outcomes by using machine learning specifically designed for that purpose.
With this available data from computers, it is possible that doctors will find themselves becoming more effective in a lot of ways. They will be able to offer more correct diagnoses, better assess risk, and offer more effective treatments.
AIs using machine learning to synthesize this data also allow doctors to begin personalizing patient care in a very meaningful way. By looking at the data on similar patients, doctors are better able to suggest particular treatments that might be effective for one patient and eliminate those treatments that might not help.
And AI is already becoming useful in other ways, too. There are robots used to help autistic children learn to identify human emotions more effectively, already in use at learning centers across the country. Eye-tracking glasses use a brain-computer interface to help patients that have lost their ability to speak or move learn to communicate by “typing” with their eyes.
And yet there’s more. AI software has been shown in studies at Stanford University to more accurately detect cardiac arrhythmias that could potentially lead to heart attacks or strokes on electrocardiograms (EKGs) than humans. And these are just a few examples of how AI is being used in healthcare right now.
What Is on the Horizon for AI in Healthcare?
So what changes await in the next few decades for artificial intelligences and their use in the healthcare industry? There are a number of exciting developments just over the horizon.
Radiology and imaging stand poised to change with the improvement of the AIs used in these machines. MRIs, CT scans, and X-Rays all offer doctors methods for looking at the inner workings of the human body. But many avenues of treatment still require tissue samples to help offer a diagnosis or treatment plan. With improvements in AI, it might soon be possible to perform virtual biopsies of tumors without taking any tissue samples at all.
This development could have huge implications for cancer treatments as well. By looking at the whole tumor and how it works, rather than just a small sample, doctors can develop a greater understanding of how they work overall. Providers might also be able to more accurately predict the aggressiveness of certain cancers, as well as offering more targeted treatments to patients with cancer.
Synthesizing these vast data sets can also help advance immunotherapy, one of the most important areas for treating and studying cancers in healthcare right now. In immunotherapy treatment, doctors use a patient’s own immune system to attack the cancer and help eliminate tumors.
However, only certain patients respond well to the treatment. Without synthesis of the existing data, it becomes extremely difficult to identify which patients might benefit. AI could be an important tool in making immunotherapy treatments a viable option for patients with cancer.
Smart machines are already popping up all over our world and in our daily life. It might be time for smart machines to enter the hospital. Smart devices can be used in the ICU to detect sepsis, the development of complications, or general deterioration. These devices can alert ICU doctors so that interventions can be made more quickly when it matters.
Fitness wearables and many devices are already being used by people all over the world to track their health data all throughout the day. Using this data could help doctors gain a more holistic picture of the health of their patients.
Similarly, smart phone cameras could end up becoming an important diagnostic tool. The cameras in smart phones are becoming more and more sophisticated. Simple face tracking software could help to identify facial abnormalities and suggest possible diagnoses, helping connect users with doctors right from their cell phones.
More change is coming! Keep your eye on artificial intelligence as it revolutionizes healthcare and the digital health industry in the next decade.