AI is not only transforming the way healthcare is being delivered, but it is also paving the way for significant improvements in care outcomes, the hospital experience and expanding the access to healthcare. By taking the time-consuming work off the shoulders of doctors, medical professionals have greater freedom to devote more of their time to patients. All of this is made possible by many new advancements made in AI and ML (Machine Learning) and we would like to share with you some of the most interesting products that are transforming healthcare as we know it.
Analyzing Medical Images
Before AI, doctors would need to spend countless hours analyzing various medical images to try and identify potentially harmful abnormalities. In fact, according to estimates, such processes would take somewhere between 30 to 60 minutes. If we were to multiply these figures by the number of patients doctors see on a weekly or even annual basis, we get a clear understanding of how much time is spent on just analyzing these medical images. Fortunately, with the introduction of AI into this process, doctors have more time to spend with patients. In addition to this, AI can potentially help fill some of the radiologist shortages that exist in many counties. For example, in the UK, there are only 7 radiologists per 100,000 people. This is one of the lowest in Europe, and compares to a mean of 12 radiologists per 100,000 population for Western Europe.
There have been many companies that helped make significant strides in this aspect of healthcare, such as Zebra Medical Vision and PathAI. A lot of the products that have been developed over the past couple of years have helped significantly increase the accuracy of the diagnoses and also produced it a lot quicker than manual review. This is particularly important with diseases like cancer which can be treated a lot more efficiently if it is noticed in its early stages.
Lowering the Cost of Healthcare
Healthcare costs are spiraling out of control. In 2017, US healthcare costs were nearly $3.5 trillion and by 2026 the costs are expected to increase to $5.7 trillion, which amounts to 20% of the US economy. AI is already being used to lower healthcare costs with companies like Pfizer and IBM using AI to speed up drug development. Their AI solutions can sift through millions of data reports and other reams of data, which means pharmaceutical companies don’t have to hire professionals with the necessary knowledge and skillset to do this work.
Also, companies like Cognizant are using AI to come up with preventive healthcare solutions by pinpointing patient groups that share common characteristics, an important step in treating disease across demographics. If people are more aware of the health risks they are more susceptible to, they can take better precautions to reduce the risks of getting those illnesses.
Performing Routine Work
Doctors need a lot of supplies to treat patients and sometimes the needed utensils are not in the needed quantity or they are missing altogether. If this is the case, doctors either need to call somebody to bring the needed supplies or make the trip to the storeroom themselves. Both of these options take up time and there are limits to the amounts of supplies that can be carried in a single trip. A new robot, called Moxi, does all of the legwork instead of the nurses. This is particularly useful today since nurses spend as much as 30% of their time on non-patient related tasks. This is also at a time when demand for nurses is growing and supply is not keeping up. By allowing nurses to spend more time with patients, they offer a lot of value to patients and healthcare professionals.
Expect the Role of AI in Healthcare to Increase
As we have seen from some of the benefits mentioned above, AI has a lot to offer both healthcare organizations and patients. With healthcare costs rising across the globe, technology can be of great help to the many people who find themselves struggling with access to affordable, quality healthcare. AI has the potential to ease a lot of these burdens on patients and even eliminate some of the problems altogether. This is why a lot of companies, and federal institutions, are already heavily investing in new AI products in healthcare, so many more developments are sure to come.