We all know technology is a driver of change. Much of the development and improvements we’ve seen in the healthcare industry today as compared to 20, 10, or even five years ago, have been a direct result of technological innovation.
Artificial Intelligence in healthcare
Artificial Intelligence (AI), and especially Machine Learning (ML), is likely to have a tremendous impact on the future of the healthcare industry for patients, physicians, and medical researchers.
According to a 2016 study by Johns Hopkins, medical errors stemming from individual and/or system-level mistakes were identified as the third-leading cause of death in the United States. Utilizing AI technologies in healthcare settings focused on patient treatment and care can help reduce this number.
One of the primary questions being asked about AI and ML today is seemingly the most basic – how these technologies can be most effectively used.
AI can act as a prescreening tool for doctors, providing them with key pieces of background information on the patient before they are seen. Then these technologies can provide augmentation, acting as a second opinion on treatment and diagnosis.
Chatbots are crucial to healthcare automation
An intelligent virtual assistant, also known as a chatbot, may be used to navigate an initial conversation with a patient to collect health history, symptoms, or other important information – ideally before they even set foot in their physician’s office. This data can then be used as input to an ML model that provides the patient with initial triage/diagnostic data.
Research has shown the results of AI-based triaging to be comparable to the accuracy of human doctors.
AI can save the healthcare workers
AI and ML can also combat burnout and even the risk of suicide among healthcare workers. Suicide rates among physicians were already one of the highest in the country and have only worsened due to the strain occurring from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hospitals are now looking to AI and ML to help identify healthcare workers at greater risk of negative mental health impacts (fatigue, burnout, depression) so they, in turn, can offer support.
How to use AI in healthcare effectively?
AI and ML can offer the healthcare industry a myriad of benefits. To effectively begin using AI and ML technologies, an organization must also have the appropriate data governance and security in place to maximize return on investment. Since ML is heavily based on probability and statistics, it’s critical to a healthcare facility’s infrastructure that the data leveraged in AI projects be clean and reliable.
Something to ponder
As these technologies continue to evolve and become more advanced, the insights and capabilities they will provide to healthcare professionals and patients alike will be truly transformational. By tapping into these technologies, not only will healthcare organizations gain a competitive advantage over time, but they will also be working to ensure patients are receiving the best possible care.